The Red Bulls were victorious in their 2010 season opener, beating the Chicago Fire by a score of 1-0. Most impressive for New York was the defense keeping a clean sheet, as the team struggled mightily to keep the ball out of its net last season. Here's how we saw each individual Red Bull perform on Saturday night.
Bouna Coundoul - 7.5
Some might think this rating is a little low, but this game was a microcosm of what Coundoul is as an overall keeper. His aggressiveness is great, except when he gets caught off his line, but he'll make some big, acrobatic saves in the meantime. In the first half, Coundoul nearly cost the Red Bulls as he misplayed a ball at the top of the box, and while Roy Miller was making a mess of things, Brian McBridebeat Coundoul with a spectacular over-the-head kick, but the ball found the post. In the 2nd half, Coundoul came up big with a few great saves, including his best of the night on a Mike Banner free kick. Coundoul is the starter, and is certainly capable, but there may be some adventures along the way.
Jeremy Hall - 7
This rating would have been a little lower if the Red Bulls did not win or keep a clean sheet. The Fire seemed to enjoy going down Hall's side, and the second year player struggled at times. Hall didn't exactly hurt the team, but you can say he was the weakest link in the back four on the night.
Tim Ream - 7.5
Ream struggled a bit when compared to his performance a week earlier against Santos, but that was expected. He gave the ball away a bit too much, but that's because he looks to pass when breaking up the attack. It was the rookie's first true professional match, but he definitely acquitted himself well. Him and centerback partner Mike Petke kept the Fire's attack at bay for the most part. Ream's expectations have been raised since his stellar preseason, and during the course of the year we may have to remind ourselves that he is indeed a rookie.
Mike Petke - 8
Petke gets a slightly higher rating than Ream. The duo was solid together and are forming a great partnership. Petke was very solid and consistent as usual. He isn't as good a passer as Ream, but Petke did his job the other night, keeping the ball away from dangerous places, and doing well against McBride, Patrick Nyarko and company.
Roy Miller - 7
The Costa Rican defender is new to MLS, and there is always a learning curve that comes with that distinction. Miller looked good in spots on Saturday, but also had some rough moments, especially the aforementioned situation around his own box that almost led to a goal. But Miller seems like he fits well in Hans Backe's system, as he's a good passer and likes to get forward. We haven't really seen him affect the attack too much yet, but he may be able to in future matches.
Dane Richards - 7
The speedy right winger was dangerous with his pace as usual, but wasn't fantastic on the night. Richards created some chances on the night but wasn't able to finish them or complete the attack with a good final pass. In the first half, he was guilty of over dribbling near the Fire area, killing some of the Red Bulls' own attacks. In the 2nd half, Richards missed a chance to set up Juan Pablo Angel for a tap in goal, and instead shot wildly wide. Dane needs to be better for the Red Bulls to have a consistent dangerous attack.
Joel Lindpere - 8.5
Lindpere was the Red Bulls' best player on the field on Saturday, controlling the midfield and scoring the match's only goal on a fantastic strike from just outside the box. Lindpere is looking to be a great signing by the club so far, as he adds much needed leadership and quality to the center of midfield. On Saturday, Lindpere also showed a great workrate. He'll be key to the Red Bulls having a successful season.
Sinisa Ubiparipovic - 6.5
Ubiparipovic is probably best served as a player off the bench for the Red Bulls going forward. When everyone is healthy, the Red Bulls have better options at every midfield spot. On Saturday. playing centrally Ubiparipovic gave the ball away a few too many times. He's just not good enough on the ball to play central midfield at a high level, nor does he have great enough pace to play a wing position. that being said, he did break up the play in the midfield that led to Lindpere's goal.
Danleigh Borman - 7.5
I thought Borman played fairly well on Saturday night. He can play multiple positions, but in his two plus years now has shown he can contribute when asked to play in the midfield as he did against the Fire. Especially in the first half, Borman provided some good passes and was effective in the attack. With a void at left midfield, Borman could play his way into a consistent starting role.
Macoumba Kandji - 7
Kandji wasn't great on Saturday night but was active, creating some chances and testing rookie keeper Andrew Dykstra. He needs to improve on his finishing (novel idea for a striker, right?), but he can definitely enjoy success in this league, He has the pace and the creativity, and he can be a handful for defenders as he was at times on Saturday.
Juan Pablo Angel - 7
Angel had some chances, and even though he looked a bit rusty, could have scored on multiple occasions on the night. In the 2nd half, his sure-goal was cleared off the line out of nowhere by Wilman Conde, and if Richards would have just sent an easy pass across the box, Angel would have had a tap in. It was just good to see Angel play a full match after sustaining a knee injury in preseason. He's the Red Bulls' best and most important player.
Subs: John Wolyniec, Tony Tchani
Wolyniec is always a good forward option off the bench when trying to kill off a game, and Saturday he did his job holding the ball up. Tchani only played in stoppage time, and his first touch was a turnover, but the rookie and 2nd overall pick had to be a bit nervous in his debut.
-In other news, the Red Bulls inked assistant coach Richie Williams to a contract extension. It's good news for the club, although I don't think it means much. When a job comes open in MLS, Richie will be targeted as an option. He won't be an assistant that much longer, but the Red Bulls will be happy to have him while they do.