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Michelle Ackermann

Michelle Ackermann

Born in South Africa, soccer has always been a part of my life, and was pretty much ingrained in my genes. Journalism is my second love in life, and what better way to combine my two favorite things in life than to write about the one thing I am most passionate about. I follow the New York Red Bulls religiously, but have a deep passion for La Liga. This passion is part of the reason why I have moved to Barcelona to pursue my dream of becoming a sports broadcaster.


RBNY Fancy Footwork Not Enough To Beat Chicago Fire

Written by on August 14, 2011 | 15 Comments »
Posted in Chicago Fire, General, MLS, New York RB

It was the first home game for the New York Red Bulls in a month, with their last six games all ending in ties or losses, with the exception of coming out victorious in the Emirates Cup.

The fans were anxious for a win, and one that seemed sure against last placed Chicago Fire. 25, 177 tickets were sold for this match, and the energy amongst the fans could only be described as intense.

The match would also be the first for newly acquired Stephane Auvray, and a surprise selection by Coach Hans Backe in the net, with GK Chris Konopko stepping in due to Rost’s injury and Coundoul’s late return from Senegal.

As the teams stepped on the pitch, there seemed to be an energy within the team; an energy that has been lacking for the last two months. Perhaps they came to realize that it is make or break time, with merely nine games left, and other teams nipping at their heels.

Backe chose a 4-5-1 formation with Henry at the top, and Agudelo on the bench. Many fans were expecting Henry and Agudelo paired together at the top, but Backe always finds ways to make fans question his tactics.

Midfield saw the combination of Richards, Ballouchy, Lindpere and the lethal duo of McCarty and Tainio. While the defensive four consisted of Miller, Ream, Marquez and Albright.

The first five minutes saw a team hungry for a win, a team that had an attitude that made everyone believe that they might leave the Red Bull Arena with three points in the bag. Henry brought relief by finding the net in the 8th minute, assisted by Richards and McCarty. RBNY was in the lead, but could they hold onto it?

Statistically, the team that scores first is usually the team that wins.

However, RBNY’s lead would only last for seven minutes, and in the 16th minute the Fire equalized with Dominic Oduro managing to break through the defensive skills of Konopko, and another eight minutes later, Sebastian Grazzini found another hole in RBNY’s defensive back four, putting the Fire up by a goal at halftime.

As the second half started, the energy that was present in the first half seemed to have faded, with the game becoming more physical, and players clearly getting frustrated with the amount of chances created and no goals to show for it.

Backe waited until the 60th minute before bringing on Auvray and Agudelo, and taking off Ballouchy and McCarty; who seemed to be unable in finding his chemistry with Tainio during this match.

Auvray’s first touch of the ball may have seemed overzealous, but it was the hunger behind that touch that made it so beautiful, and it was certainly not far from finding the net.

It would be Lindpere who would find the equalizing goal in the 63rd minute, with an assist from Richards. It would be his sixth goal for the season, and a dramatic one.

During the build-up to the goal, the Fire anticipated a foul being called, one which the referee chose to ignore, and following Lindpere’s goal; he was seen storming toward the referee cursing, out of sheer frustration. It earned him a yellow card for dissent, but RBNY had equalized.

The last third of the match saw a lot of back and forth; a good amount of long balls, fancy footwork and no finishes. Final score would be 2-2. A fourth tie for RBNY in their last seven matches.

Backe was content with the performance; “It was a step in the right direction comparing it to the last two months. They had a great attitude, and I am very pleased with the attacking skills they showed tonight.”

For Backe and the boys it was most important to see that they would be able to bounce back, and they showed just that.

Auvray, who had no training sessions with the team and merely arrived in New York the day before the match said that he was happy with his move to RBNY, where he would be able to play.

He found the welcome from the fans overwhelming, and hoped that he would be able to play to a standard that they consider satisfactory.

Agudelo, who only played the last third of the match, believed that the biggest mistake lies in the fact that the team tries to cross the ball too much, instead of simply going directly towards the goal.

RBNY is set to face anticipated and favored MLS-Cup contenders; LA Galaxy, FC Dallas and Real Salt Lake within the next few weeks.

That being said, does a tie against last place Chicago Fire truly reflect this “restart” that Backe kept referring to, and will it be enough against these teams who have already established themselves at the top of the Western Conference?

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15 responses to “RBNY Fancy Footwork Not Enough To Beat Chicago Fire”

  1. Soccerlogical says:

    Stephane Auvray, Rost….. amazing how many good and experienced players Backe has at his disposal. All the while DeRo is thriving in DC and enhancing Pontius’, Najar’s an Davies’ play.

    And if RBNY’s inability to close off a game is due to Pillsbury Rodger’s absence then that’s even worse. 🙂

  2. Rhywun says:

    I was just relieved DeRo didn’t score another 3 this week.

  3. Rhywun says:


    I’m pretty much convinced now that it’s entirely due to Rodgers’ absence.

  4. Soccerlogical says:

    RHY… – So what does that say about a manager who has an abundance of attacking riches (Lindpere, Richards, Henry, Agudelo) and releases DeRo after a month only to rely on a short overweight striker from England’s lower leagues?

  5. Rhywun says:

    I think the fact that NY was winning with Rodgers and is not winning much without him says something. Henry + Rodgers was better than Henry + Agudelo or Henry by himself.

  6. @ Rhywun, I do not think that is a fair analysis mostly due to the fact that Backe always chooses to play Agudelo in the last third. I do not remember the last time he actually started Agudelo, and therefore I think it is hard to say that Henry and Agudelo don’t have chemistry. With Rodgers, he always started those two together.
    But it is all a part of his “protecting Agudelo until he finds his footing” theory.
    I hate to say it, but perhaps Rodgers is their only hope at this point.

  7. Gus Keri says:

    Forget about the DeRo-in-NYRB experement. It didn’t work.

    DeRo in DC is like a big fish in a small pond. Of course he will have a positive influence on the like of Pontius, Najar an Davies. He is a star and the most experienced one on that team.

    On the other hand, in NY, he wasn’t the star. He was another fish in the pond. There are a lot of experienced players and more sophisticated stars than him. he wasn’t expected to be a mentor. he was expeceted to perform his job, simply.

    It took some time for Backe to recognize that he didn’t need help in that department and he needed help with defense and decided to switch him for a defensive midfielder.

    McCarty and Tainio played well together in the first match but Tainio got injured and things got sour again.

    Backe brought on another defensive mid (Auvray) to cover for one of them in case of absence.

    The absence of Rodgers has nothign to do with the NYRB problem right now. They have enough striking power.

    What they need help with is the defense which is still the culprit for a lot of goals, conceded.

    Initially, there were a lot of goalkeeping mistakes. Now, it seems to have been reduced somewhat.

    Stregthening the defensive midfield is the next target and give Backe few more games with a healthy Tainio and available McCarty and Augray and let’s analyze the situation again.

  8. The big fish in a small pond happens more than we think perhaps.

  9. Soccerlogical says:

    This “Big fish in small pond” is what the ever incompetent Backe either should have realized before signing DeRo or successfully rectified and “managed” and integrated DeROo into a side with Henry. Not this BS of I’ll sign one of the top 5 MLS players and release him after a month!

    How many more DP defensive players does Backe need to address his defense… jeez.

  10. PV2 says:

    “I do not remember the last time he actually started Agudelo.”

    Em, last week against Real Salt Lake.

  11. @PV 2….clearly you don’t follow my articles every week, as most know that I have been away for the last two weeks covering Real Madrid and Barcelona on their respective tours.
    So, Backe started him for the first time in how many months? Agudelo is lucky if he gets subbed in in the last 3rd, and talking to Backe about Agudelo and his lack of playing time always gets the coach fired up, since he blames the media for all the hype that has been made around young Agudelo.

  12. PV2 says:

    It was actually his first start in seven days, since the PSG game in London. Excluding that, first start in two weeks since the previous MLS game against Dallas at RBA, which came three days after he started in Colorado, etc.

  13. Please do not even get me started on the “Emirates Cup”… everyone else, I wish that Backe would stay focused on the regular season as opposed to friendlies, but that is a whole other story.

    I am not sure if we are watching the same games….but I know Agudelo has been spending a lot of time on the bench alongside all the other subs that Backe never uses…

  14. Gus Keri says:


    Agudelo was spending a lot of time on the bench but since Rodgers’ injury, he has been starting every game. He started the last 4 regular season games. He started the game agaisnt PSG and came off the bench agaisnt Arsenal.

    In the last 6 games, he stared 5 games including 4 MLS games.

  15. Ok, my apologies. Clearly I had missed more than the last 2 games….so my apologies, however Agudelo definitely deserves more playing time.

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