The New York Red Bulls escaped their trip to Chicago with a valuable point off the draw. That brings their total point count to a whopping two out of a possible nine.....not fantastic. Fortunately, as many folks have already pointed out, New York got off to a similar slow start last season, and look how that ended up for them. While the first two matches left much to be desired on an individual performance level for the Red Bulls, the common theme out of the locker room after yesterday's match against the Fire seems to have the team confident they are moving in the right direction. So, are the guys right? Did they improve off of their slow start? Let's take a look at some player ratings and find out.
Luis Robles 8: Once again, Robles is almost single handedly responsible for keeping the Red Bulls out of the loss column this week. Another match, another lights out performance for the one time US national team keeper. One could argue that Robles might have done better on Chicago's one goal of the game, but one could also argue that Richard Eckersley needs to get out of the damn way.
Richard Eckersley 5: As already mentioned, Eckersley may share some of the responsibility in Chicago's lone goal of the match. While guarding the post on a first half corner kick, Eckersley attempted to head the ball away but only succeeded in interfering with Robles' path to making the save. That one mistake aside, the former Toronto FC defender continues to improve as he grows more comfortable with his new teammates.
Jamison Olave 7: The massive Colombian center back had another solid defensive performance. Paired up with Ibrahim Sekagya, Olave helped make sure nothing was played through the middle of the box. Unable to make it out of the match without a card, at least he didn't give up another PK.
Ibrahim Sekagya 7: Did anyone actually miss Armando yesterday? Because we sure didn't. Sekagya did a more than ample job filling in for the suspended Spaniard. Thanks to some surprisingly limber moves, Ibra was able to make a stand out play by backheeling a ball out of the path of an unmanned Mike Magee, who would have almost certainly buried the winner.
Roy Miller 6: Any day that Roy Miller doesn't make headlines is a good day for Roy Miller. Decent overlapping runs and no scares on the left side make for a typical and comfortable performance from the Costa Rican international.
Jonny Steele 6: Other than an early cross that was spot on Lloyd Sam's head and a few decent runs into the box, Steele was largely invisible on Sunday. It wasn't his best performance, but it was far from his worst.
Dax McCarty 6: McCarty really saved himself with a goal in the 21st minute. The rest of the match saw much of what we've seen out of Dax for most of this short season: lots of bad passing. We're chalking it up to early season rust, but whatever is going on, Dax is not playing up to his potential.
Eric Alexander 3: Alexander just isn't a central midfielder, so how about we just knock it off right now? For crying out loud, someone explain to this guy that we always play to the whistle.
Lloyd Sam 6: Arguably the team's stand out player over the first two matches of the season, Sam did not have a world beating game against the Fire. That said, he did help produce one of the most clear chances on goal, nearly heading in a sublime cross from Jonny Steele early on in the match. Sam also played well on the flank and helped provide what little sense of creativity there was to be found.
Thierry Henry 6: Is anyone else worried about all the "positive" reviews coming from the team about Henry's performance in the CAM role? Most of last season, a regular complaint was that Ti Ti was constantly forced to drop back in order to get the ball at his feet. Now we are happy with him spending the entire game in the midfield? What gives? Henry was fine in his new role but would have been playing better in his original position near the goal.
Tim Cahill 4: This one stings to think about. Cahill has seemed stiff and out of form since the season started. That coupled with his being played out of position made for a stinker of a match. If one thing can be taken out of his performance, it's that Tim Cahill is no hold up striker. Does anyone have a number on how many chances Cahill could have simply chosen to turn and shoot but decided rather to pass it out to the wings? Because we lost count.
Mike Petke 4: Petke's refusal to start Peguy in the midfield is nothing short of mind boggling. His decision to sub Steele out before Alexander? Even more so. It's understandable that the second year coach would want to tinker with the lineup a bit, but this is starting to border on parody.
Peguy Luyindula 8: Peguy's impact was felt immediately. As soon as the makeshift #10 makes an appearance, New York's game becomes a whole lot more creative. Not only did Luyindula provide a much needed spark to a lifeless attack, but he also gave the game a touch of levity with his own America's Funniest Home Videos moment after taking a Lloyd Sam cross square to the pills. Thanks for the laughs, Peguy!
Bobby Convey N/A: Convey logged about ten minutes total. We had forgotten that he was subbed on after two.