How long will it take Bruce Arena to make New York Red Bull into a semblance of a competitive MLS team?
In the short term, he'll have to rely on his tactical knowledge and motivational methods, since the team is tight up against the salary cap, it has no allocations, and the rumors of a ''secret meeting'' by which the MLS Board of Governors ''approved'' a mega-player acquisition for Red Bull New York appear to be nothing more than rumors.
The return of Youri Djorkaeff can help, assuming Arena can sort out the wants and needs of Djorkaeff and Amado Guevara.
The Red Bulls are in third place in the Eastern Conference and need only finish ahead of the Crew and one other team to make the playoffs.
A fourth-place finish would match the Red Bulls against D.C. United in the first round of the playoffs. Wouldn't that be interesting?
Yet the East, aside from D.C., is so tight any of the five teams could finish second, although the Crew seems to be a shade weaker than the rest and on paper, the Revolution should be better than a .500 (6-6-7) team.
No longer does Arena hold the same huge edge over his rival coaches in terms of player knowledge and experience. When he left the league eight years ago, he'd never coached - at the pro level -- against Sigi Schmid, Bob Bradley, Dave Sarachan, Frank Yallop, Steve Nicol, Peter Nowak or Colin Clarke.