The 2009 edition of the New York Red Bulls have played eight league games and have five goals to show for it. None of those goals have come on the road, where they haven’t won since the Gowanus Canal was clean. They’ve given up two sure victories at the death.
Yet a win Friday against the same equally dismal San Jose squad that the Red Bulls topped in an Open Cup game last week would put them just a single point out of what would be the last playoff spot.
You read correctly: a single point.
So perhaps I spoke a bit too soon when I declared the home opener a must win game for New York. I guess it’s just my optimistic nature that wants the MLS regular season to actually mean something before Labor Day.
So to ramp up the competitiveness for an early May MLS match, I’ve decided to arrange this week’s preview into a quiz format.
Please fill in the ovals completely.
#1: What is more worrisome for Red Bulls fans?
A) Angel being slowly destroyed by turf
B) Angel having no real goal scoring help
C) Angel having to drop in the midfield to get touches
Correct answer: C – Juan Carlos Osorio built this roster with speed down the flanks, and by extension service to Angel, in mind. But the ability to maintain possession in the midfield is sorely lacking, and Angel typically finds himself dropping deep by the hour mark. Albert Celades, if he can get healthy, might well fix this.
#2 The best new acquisition this season (so far) is:
Correct Answer: B – I suppose this one is a gimme. Despite a quick mental lapse in the DC fiasco, Pacheco has finally given NY stability at the left back spot. Though perhaps not the overlapping raider that Osorio wanted, he shows a lot of savvy and serves a nice ball out of the back.
#3 The most disappointing new acquisition this season (so far) is:
Correct answer: D – Smith – The fact that he began the season as a starter points to the expectations that were in place for him. He has not been up for the challenge.
#4. The San Jose Player NY must stop in order to break their road losing streak is:
A. Darren Huckerby
B. Cam Weaver
C. Bobby Convey
D. Aturo Alvarez
Correct Answer: D – Huckerby clearly isn’t the choice, as his injury continues to cripple the team that he brought to life midway through last season. Nor is Cam Weaver, who while touted as a possible breakout player this season, has already been replaced in the lineup. Alvarez gets the nod over Convey, due to his better production, but these two seem to be the ones to watch.
#5 The Redbulls recent 2-1 victory over San Jose will have what effect on their mindset for Friday:
A. Postitive – They know they can get this road win.
B. Negative – Overconfidence leaves you on the short end
C. None – The games are mutually exclusive
Correct Answer – A: If there was any time that New York was ripe for a win it’s now. They know they can beat this team, and they know they can do it away from home. If they can get Angel the service, they can certainly pick up the full three against one of the few teams that has started as miserably as themselves.
If not, they can always wait until Labor Day.