Most would have expected New York Red Bulls to play a memorable game against KC, as it was their second to last regular game of the season; especially considering the fact that RBNY are holding on by the thinnest thread after a season that has exposed the weakness of the team.
Coach Hans Backe made no surprise selections for his starting eleven, utilizing the same team he has for the last few matches. At what point will he realize that there is a talented bench behind him; one that may actually throw some surprise moves at the opponents? As expected, there were no substitutes until the 70th minute, leaving many questioning the once praised coach’s judgment.
Perhaps the only player that has become somewhat of a regular sighting, Dax Mccarty, was missing from the lineup due to an internal issue earlier this week; rumors have it that he mouthed off to Backe. So, Rost as GK, Henry (C) and Rodgers up front, while the midfield saw the regulars including Marquez, Tainio, Lindpere and Richards. Defensive back four; Keel, Miller, Ream and Solli.
The game was undoubtedly a mediocre one for RBNY; at which point will this team start playing as a unit, with the same goal in mind? Perhaps more baffling was the red card given to Captain, Thierry Henry in the 28th minute. Having seen the replay a few times over, I still cannot tell whether it was an intentional kick from the back, or if Henry just stumbled into Roger Espinoza. Either way, this left RBNY down a man, in a match where all strength was needed.
Henry may be the leading goal scorer for RBNY, but does he truly deserve wearing the Captain’s armband? To many loyal fans the answer is undoubtedly a resounding no. To RBNY, the corporation, they are fully aware that the DP has been the reason why numerous fans who would have never attended a Red Bull match have paid to see the former Arsenal striker.
Perhaps even more disturbing is the fact that he gave his armband to Marquez following his red card. It is understood by all that the former Barcelona players have an amazing partnership, but deserving of wearing the armband; not so much. If one were to ask any member of the “South Ward”; the supporters section at RBA who they believe deserve to be wearing it, the answer is almost guaranteed to be Joel Lindpere; a player that always exudes passion when he is on the pitch. Of course, it has become clear that making a profit is more important for RBNY at this point.
That being said, RBNY displayed no fight on the pitch and made Kansas City’s trip to the playoffs a simple one; two goals would make its way into the goal; the first from Bunbury in the 57th, and the second from Sapong in the 74th. These goals from KC would clinch their playoff berth, and once again expose the weakness in RBNY’s defensive back line.
Inconsistent is the word that may best describe this trying season for the Red Bulls. Just when fans started to believe they would turn it around, they were quickly reminded that even when everything is on the line, there is no guarantee that the team will come out hungry for a win.
Once again, for the utmost time this season, this Thursday’s match against rival, Philadelphia Union has been coined “do or die” for the Red Bulls. Does a team that has been so inconsistent truly deserve a shot at the playoffs?
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