Join Now  | 
Home About Contact Us Privacy & Security Advertise
Soccer America Daily Soccer World Daily Special Edition Around The Net Soccer Business Insider College Soccer Reporter Youth Soccer Reporter Soccer on TV Soccer America Classifieds Game Report
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalk Soccer America Confidential Youth Soccer Insider World Cup Watch
RSS Feeds Archives Manage Subscriptions Subscribe
Order Current Issue Subscribe Manage My Subscription Renew My Subscription Gift Subscription
My Account Join Now
Tournament Calendar Camps & Academies Soccer Glossary Classifieds
Red Bulls, finally, taking the right approach
by Ridge Mahoney, February 1st, 2010 10AM
Subscribe to Soccer America Confidential

MOST READ

MOST COMMENTED

By Ridge Mahoney

I'm going out on a limb right now to predict the Red Bulls won't be as bad with Coach Hans Backe in charge as they've been in the past.

As a notorious under-achiever in a monstrous market, New York has promised more and delivered less than any other MLS team. Players, coaches and executives have stood on podiums and pontificated of great things to come, only to scurry off after a year or two, if that, stung by failure and embarrassment.

So forlorn has this franchise been that sighs of relief emanated from RedBullville last August when a 1-0 victory over Columbus - a second win in a row! -- ensured it would finish with more points than the downtrodden Tampa Bay Mutiny, which compiled just 14 points (4-21-2) during the shortened 2001 season.

By beating Toronto on the final day of the 2009 season for their fifth victory, the Red Bulls topped the Mutiny and Chivas USA (also four wins) in its 2005 expansion season among the worst of the worst. There really isn't anywhere to go but up, but that's not why I predict there are not only better times ahead, but perhaps real success.

No, I've not been seduced by their blistering start to the preseason, rolling through the likes of feared Eastern European powers CSKA Moscow and Lech Poznan with a tie and a victory, respectively, in friendlies during their visit to Spain. Nor do I buy into the premise that Red Bull Park, as marvelous as it quite likely will be as an audience destination and sponsorship magnet, can automatically transform mediocrity into marvelous. Proof abounds in MLS, as per Colorado and Dallas in particular, that a stadium does not guarantee prosperity.

For the first time in its history, expectations are realistic. Rather than hire a veteran of many World Cups (Bora Milutinovic) or a man who has won one (Carlos Alberto Parreira, with Brazil of all teams), it has a proper coach in Backe, a Swede who by his own admission is used to making do with modest resources. Red Bull Arena will be magnificent, not modest, but amid parity and a salary cap Backe is more suited to success than most of his predecessors.

Assistant coaches Richie Williamsand Des McAleenan should be able to steer him through the Byzantine world of MLS. The physical, robust style of play in Scandinavia is somewhat similar to MLS, though a long, hot summer and lengthy road trips will take some adjustment, as will the relative tactical naivety of the typical young American player and the Hispanic influence present on some rival teams.

Nothing definitive regarding wins and losses can be predicted from his calm, sensible demeanor at the SuperDraft, and Red Bull could improve significantly this season and still not make the playoffs.

An ambitious expansion team in Philadelphia increases the league's membership to 16 teams, only half of which can qualify for postseason play. Right now, New York still looks more like an absentee than a participant come next November. But as it proved in 2008, when it finished below .500 and still reached MLS Cup, it doesn't take all that much to get somewhere in this league.

With a long way to go, Red Bull seems pointed in the right direction. For this team, that's real progress.

 



No comments yet.

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Soccer America Confidential
Philadelphia Union embarks on its toughest stretch of games to date    
The Philadelphia Union, the Eastern Conference leader, plays in Orlando Wednesday, flies halfway across the country ...
Perry Kitchen finds a new niche in Scotland    
Perry Kitchen left MLS after five seasons though the destination turned out to be somewhat of ...
Howard leaves Everton for a much different MLS and USA    
Is the time right for Brad Guzan to take over as the U.S. No. 1? Both ...
Kamara deal shakes up stagnant Revs    
Nobody can match the production of Kei Kamara since he joined Columbus prior to the 2015 ...
Busy midweek schedules add to unique travel woes in MLS    
No MLS head coach or executive has ever praised the league's schedule-makers. Conflicts with other competitions ...
It's time for Klinsmann to go young    
At first blush, there is nothing startling about the 40-player list from which Jurgen Klinsmann will ...
NYCFC's Pirlo problem won't go away    
Jason Kreis, New York City FC's head coach for its expansion season, never came out and ...
Recent incidents sharpen focus on how video replay can improve the game    
MLS and other North American soccer leagues are awaiting specific guidelines to be issued by FIFA ...
MLS ups the ante on expansion    
Major League Soccer has come a long way in the last decade, let alone the last ...
How Brian McBride started his path to stardom    
Brian McBride is regarded as one of the top forwards in U.S. history and played in ...
>> Soccer America Confidential Archives