August 10, 2012
By Kristian Dyer
Diminutive rookie Lade gives a big boost to the Red Bulls
BigAppleSoccer.com Assistant Editor
By Kristian R. Dyer
|In a team full of big names, Connor Lade continues to make a big impact for the New York Red Bulls.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
BigAppleSoccer.com Contributing Editor
HARRISON, N.J. – Just call it “Ladesanity.”
Since the beginning of the year, New York sports fans have been through “Linsanity” with the rise of Jeremy Lin of the Knicks, and “Timsanity,” which hit New York in March when Tim Tebow was traded to the Jets. But perhaps nothing is more surprising than how Red Bulls fans have taken to rookie Connor Lade. And in what was his 14th start of the season, Lade and his pitbull style were on full display in Friday’s 2-0 win over Houston at Red Bull Arena.
“He’s starting to be a key player for us; I mean we played I think it is 24 games or something like that and he’s one of the guys you put in first on the starting lineup whether it’s at the wide left position or as a right fullback,” head coach Hans Backe said.
“But he’s been absolutely phenomenal [especially] coming to us from our academy directly, the first season with form like this – you don’t see that very often in professional football.”
No one expected Lade, a graduate of St. John’s University, to play like one of the team’s veterans.
In the 28th minute, Lade produced cheers from the crowd when, after tussling with former New York and current Houston forward Mac Kandji, the two got into a war of words with some light pushing involved. Lade, at a listed 5’6, was at a distinct disadvantage to the 6’4 Kandji, but the Red Bulls rookie didn’t back down and stood his ground. Kandji got a yellow card for the altercation and Lade gave his team a serious jolt of energy.
The crowd roared and Lade continued to be the team’s sparkplug throughout the match, reveling in doing the little things to help the other 10 players on the field. Even with a tough task ahead of him on Friday night, Lade stood tall.
Last week, Kandji was one of the most dynamic Houston players, consistently creating havoc in the final third. Lade was assigned to the right back slot to minimize Kandji’s effectiveness.
“We struggled with injuries, we’ve been trying different things with the lineup. They want to see how I do back there at right back,” Lade said. “He hurt us really bad out in Houston. We kind of gave him a lot of room so we wanted to close down on him, just pressure him as much as we could. Take him off his game a bit. That’s what I tried to do.
“He’s a great player and it’s tough when you give a guy like that room – one of his strides is like three of mine. You have to get close to him as possible and not let him turn because once you let him go at you he’s very, very dangerous. I just wanted to stay tight on him and just be as physical as I could.”
The irony is that Lade was tried at right fullback in preseason and didn’t fare well. Now, with confidence and regular time in the Starting XI, Lade is confident enough to get stuck-in against a talented player like Kandji and not back down.
And his teammates are taking notice.
“In every game, in every practice, this is him. He’s so aggressive, hardworking. He’s getting more confidence, getting better with the ball. Maybe he is the best player we’ve had this season,” midfielder Teemu Tainio told BigAppleSoccer.com.
“He’s a quiet guy, wants to work hard for the team. All the older guys, we appreciate it. Sometimes you have a younger guy who is good and gets big-headed. Not in this case.”