Well, we finally have some football to think about -- even if we didn't see much of it. The New York Red Bulls claimed a win in their first pre-season game of 2011, a penalty shoot-out victory against Atlante after ninety scoreless minutes. The defense, according to Hans Backe, is even better than last year, which is certainly good news. However, it would be nice to see us score a few goals -- we had the fourth-best defense last season in MLS, but were only seventh in attack.
Backe opted to move Rafael Márquez to the backline for this game, where he started alongside Tim Ream, Danleigh Borman, and Carlos Mendes; Greg Sutton was in goal as Bouna Coundoul was busy keeping a clean sheet for Senegal. Jan Gunnar Solli, Joel Lindpere, Dane Richards, and Tony Tchani made up the midfield, with a strike pairing of Thierry Henry and Juan Agudelo. This was roughly something approximating a 4-4-2 diamond or a 4-1-3-2.
The Red Bulls outfield line-up changed completely at halftime, as Backe put Teddy Schneider, Stephen Keel (formerly of the Portland Timbers and on trial with New York), Tyler Lassiter, and Billy Cortes in defense, Matt Kassel, Carl Robinson, John Rooney, and Austin da Luz in midfield, with Conor Chinn and Corey Hertzog as the two strikers. Again, this looks like a 4-1-3-2 with Robinson as the defensive midfielder and an attacking trio ahead of him. It does raise concerns about our fullbacks getting caught out, but in some ways the clean sheet speaks for itself.
Sacir Hot, Salou Ibrahim, and Irving Garcia were brought on as substitutes and played just under twenty minutes, and the only two Red Bulls to not score their penalties in the shoot-out were the two British-born players, Rooney and Robinson.
Rather belatedly, MLS finally announced the regular season schedules for 2011 on Thursday. The Red Bulls' program includes early trips to face the Philadelphia Union and D.C. United, and what looks at this point to be a slightly easier run-in to the end of the regular season. The Red Bulls are scheduled to be on ESPN or ESPN2 eight times this season -- much to the chagrin of FC Dallas fans, whose team will not be on national English-language television at all during the regular season.
The Red Bulls had another pre-season game on Saturday, as they won a scrimmage against Atlante's Reserves by three goals to one. Thierry Henry put New York ahead in the first half, and goals from Matt Kassel and Corey Hertzog sandwiched the Mexican side's only goal. While it sounds like a good performance (there is no video of the game), we probably should beat the reserve sides of Mexican Primera teams.
According to this tweet from Andrés Cantor, the Red Bulls' friendly on Tuesday against Chivas de Guadalajara will be televised on Telemundo. Kickoff is at 9 PM, and we'll have a GameThread going here at Once A Metro.
Former Tottenham and Sunderland midfielder Teemu Tainio is on trial with the Red Bulls. Curiously, Hans Backe sees him as a right back, which is very strange to me after Chris Albright's fantastic season in 2010. Albright was very solid at the back, provided some good service going forward, and absolutely should have won the Comeback Player of the Year award.
In the scurrilous transfer rumors section, the New York Post reports that the Red Bulls are trying to sign Bayern Munich striker Miroslav Klose (although the Post spelled his name incorrectly). If true, it is an absurd move. Klose hasn't been near top form at club level for almost two seasons, and while he scored for Germany in a friendly against Italy last midweek, he has a tendency to go completely missing when he's not getting perfect service. Not to mention that he has nothing resembling a "high work rate in the box," as the Post claims.
That's all for today -- get ready for Chivas on Tuesday!