Hans Backe really had to convince the media he was taking the U.S. Open Cup seriously this year, going on the record repeatedly that he was taking the competition seriously heading into the Red Bulls' match-up with the Charleston Battery Tuesday.
The Bulls got a win, but if you're still in doubt, now there are numbers to back up Backe's promise.
Jonathan Yardley at his Behind the Mic blog, crunched the numbers for us, and the line-up trotted out by Backe this past week accounted for 66.1 percent of their total minutes, even taking into account Jhonny Arteaga, who started, and subs Ryan Maduro and Jonathan Borrajo, none of whom played a minute all season. Yardley weighed the subs evenly with the rest of the rest of the XI.
Taking into account the median minutes played, the Red Bulls top the list my a considerable amount. The middle man for the Bulls is Jan Gunnar Solli who played 799 minutes all year.
Not that there isn't a caveat here: The Red Bulls have played a ton of different players this year. Remember, that whole 5-0 with three straight clean sheets thing while the team's roster looked more like a hospital's patient list? So not only is the team deep, but have played a ton of different players this year, which certainly does something to the numbers.
But the fact remains that the Red Bulls have a pretty damn good roster this season. It's deep, with a good mix of youth and experience, hunger and stardom. And it's paying off.