[MLS: Playoff Push] Considering they started 0-2-2, the New York Red Bulls have done well to find themselves at or near the top of the Eastern Conference for much of the season, but no one is ready to say they are title contenders. New York has flashed and fizzled before.
NEW YORK RED BULLS:
First 10: 4-4-2.
Last 10: 4-4-2.
THE STORY SO FAR. A fighting spirit has empowered the team to atone for occasional lapses and flat periods, as did its head coach during his playing days. Mike Petke has instilled his will to win. Still, setbacks like the 2-0 loss in Columbus last weekend keep most of the Red Bull fans grounded.
RECENT MOVES. Tim Cahill’s teammate on the Australian national team, David Carney, has joined him
on the Red Bull roster. A left-sided midfielder/defender with experience in England’s lower leagues as well as internationally, Carney, 29, may not be starter quality but can add depth. Bradley Wright-Phillips adds speed and relative youth (28) to an old-ish attack (see below). That’s the theory, anyway, as he’s yet to play.
STYLE POINTS. Ex-RSL stalwarts Fabian Espindola and Jamison Olave are contributing,
the class of Thierry Henry has not waned, and the much-maligned Marcus Holgersson looks more competent, if not
outstanding, paired with Olave and fronted by a cohesive midfield. The grouping of Dax McCarty, Jonny Steele and Eric Alexander contributes many more good games than bad though it does have limitations that the top teams have exploited.
NEEDS WORK. As the Quakes discovered last year, comeback karma has its limits, and those spectacular Red Bull wins over RSL (4-3) and Sporting Kansas City (3-2) plastered over some
porous play in midfield and the back line. Juninho left last month but is still tied for second on the team in assists. Oldsters Henry (35) and Cahill (33) have
combined for 13 goals; Henry hit 15 by himself in 2012.
FINAL ANSWER. The Red Bulls have flashed and fizzled before, and their record was actually
better after 24 games last season (12-7-5). In another few months the Petke Project will have its grade.
PTS TEAM W-L-T +/-
39 Sporting KC 11-7-6 36/24
38 New York 11-8-5 36/31
37 Philadelphia 10-7-7
35 Montreal 10-7-5 34/34
33 Houston 9-7-6 26/22
31 Chicago 9-9-4 29/32
30 New England 8-8-6 27/20
26 Columbus 7-11-5 27/30
20 Toronto FC 4-11-8 21/31
13 D.C. United 3-17-4 13/41
August 17: Philadelphia
August 25: @Chivas USA
August 31: D.C. United
September 8: @Houston
September 14: Toronto FC
September 22: FC Dallas
September 29: @Seattle
October 5: New England
October 20: @Houston
October 27: Chicago