With the MLS season just a few days away, we preview the Red Bulls with daily position-by-position previews. You can read all of them here. Today: The Red Bulls' situation at left back.
As we noted in our center back preview, what happens on the left side of the field will be determined by what happens in the middle of the defense.
Either Heath Pearce lines up next to Jamison Olave, or Markus Holgersson gets the call there, which frees Pearce to line up at left back.
Assuming Pearce is seen by Head Coach Mike Petke as a center back, rather than a left back, that leaves Connor Lade and Roy Miller to fill in on the left. If you're uncomfortable with that statement, we're right there with you.
Lade, in the first Desert Diamond Cup game against Real Salt Lake, seemed iffy back there. As much as RSL's first two goals were the result of a miscommunication between Lade, Pearce and rookie goalkeeper Santiago Castano, it didn't help that Lade was just out-muscled on his attempt to get the ball.
In his appearance in the midfield in Arizona against the Seattle Sounders, Lade looked a lot better and generally more confident.
Miller, while his gaffes are well documented among the Red Bulls faithful, had a pretty good pre-season. Whether that translates into a good regular season remains to be seen, but forgive our skepticism. If past performance is the best indicator of future returns, Miller getting the call on the backline is concerning.