August 13, 2013
MY TWO CENTS
The only consistent thing about the confounding Red Bulls is their inconsistency
Vish Murthy is a long-time Red Bulls fan who lives in Princeton, N.J.
"The opinions reflected in the My Two Cents columns do not express the views of the editors or management of BigAppleSoccer. com"
By Vish Murthy
Special to BigAppleSoccer.com
I think it’s time to stop "pussy footing" around the Red Bulls and let the fans do the talking after the game with the Columbus Crew.
The Red Bulls do not impress this writer as a cogent team. They are incapable of putting on enough shows back-to-back that lets a fan rest easy for a while. They do not know how to leave a stamp like some really great teams do and like the ones that we saw recently. A Real Madrid or any of those half a dozen of those participating in the Guinness International Champions Cup really define what teams are made of even in the midst of a summer’s vacation. You can wake up any one of those guys in the middle of their siesta any afternoon, and they will still put on a show of rare insights.
The Red Bulls are stacked to the hilt, more than any other team in Major League Soccer. They can mesmerize you on certain days, but as soon as they have produced a display for you they will turn around, be equally perverse and erase that from your memory. It’s also no use making wan statements on their behalf that the team missed Thierry Henry, Tim Cahill, Lloyd Sam and coach Mike Petke. It does nothing. A game has to go on with everyone’s expectation riding on their favorite team.
The only thing that one can consistently repeat after a Red Bulls team is that they are an inconsistent bunch. One sees skills, but rarely on a consistent basis. There is no sufficiency in watching them for a time with overlapping runs, ball holding, mental reading or positioning that marks the chemistry of some great teams. Barcelona will put on such a consistent show for 89 minutes of a game and do six times in a row. That is the bar for teams that stack up against them week after week in the real world of futbol. That is the bar for fans that watch them on TV throughout the world on a consistent basis.
So what if Henry does an Olimpico once in a while? So what if Brandon Barklage puts two bullet like ones, in one game? He cannot replicate anything similar given the next dozen games. So what if Sam was man of last week? He is made to look desperate pleading for playing minutes from Petke. What if Peguy Luyindula shone ages back with Lyon? He just doesn’t have a single doctor in town who can really tell what ails him. Dax McCarty puts on a scintillating show for us now and then, enough times for a fan to start thinking of him in terms of a national jersey and as the heart and soul of this team? But he just about fades away when we come to expect his cake walk, not unexpectedly, against more inferior teams. So what that Fabian Espindola can put the turn on a ball or make some rare darting runs? Most times he does one more dribble than necessary, plain loses the ball, and doesn’t care to view where his other partner is. Does it surprise anybody, that Markus Holgersson (who looks like somebody that dashes about on stilts), even after being two years on this team is incapable of distinguishing a teammate from an opponent and is quite capable of rolling a neat ball the opponent’s way?
How many times does Luis Robles have to be on duty to carry the rest of his 10 teammates?
What does the Red Bulls team really expect? That on each road game 25,000 faithful fans will follow them with pipe, kettle and drum and back them hoarse into an infusion of energy?
There is not a single thing that explains how the Red Bulls can beat the two top teams in the league so decisively on one day, and in the very next breath collapse to meager ones at the bottom. All one can say, is that their assumed position at the top is precarious – it can be another year of "we came close, but ..."
One more thing, and this is for Mr. Shep Messing, whom this writer has admired since his Cosmos days and now for being on MSG [one also caught him Sunday night promoting Cosmos on SNY]. While we all hail Clint Dempsey coming back in the prime of his life and the fact that MLS can pay on the same level as a Henry and a David Beckham, we will be nowhere considered a good league (in football terms) till we can match the strides of competition day after day, as in the English Premier League.
Going to Europe is not just for our goalkeepers, and Landon Donovan as our "developed at home only" product is but an exception. Even a world class player like Neymar, from a fantastic football nation called Brazil, was asked by the world’s pundits to ply his trade in Europe if he wanted them to rank him. Maybe, an old Pele refrain of keeping Neymar with his dear Santos seems to have rubbed off on Cosmos buddy Messing, but Pele also had to wilt one day and agree that Neymar would not be complete till he showed up in Europe.
Check on the idea with Stevie Nichols too, who just on Sunday on the new ESPNFC show happened to mention that Dempsey’s great adjustment to MLS will come in adapting to the less exacting standards of practice in the league. One has only to listen carefully to a Brad Friedel tape from a couple of years back to measure the depth of expectations that the clubs in Europe put on every one of its football athletes.
Finally, we may also need to take into consideration a craw that may still be manifesting with Landon, should he sign up with one of the beckoning European teams, once he is done with the LA Galaxy.
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