The New York Red Bulls are the defending Supporter’s Shield winners. Let that sink in, the Red Bulls will be defending a major US Soccer trophy for the first time in their history. They have had an unusually calm offseason, with little player movement. Their head coach, a club legend & sweater aficionado, signed a brand new three year contract to remain the man in charge. All seems right with the world, and of course that means we’re in for a "That’s So Metro" season, or are we? Don’t expect the worst, as I give you reasons to be optimistic about the Red Bulls chances in 2014.
The End of The Curse of Caricola
Whether you believed in it or not, The Curse of Caricola hung over this team since the beginning, April 20, 1996. It didn’t matter if it was during the MetroStars era, or the Red Bulls era; this team seemed cursed. Whenever the team would start to come close to success, they would fall. However, on an October night last year, the Curse was lifted, and with it, the weight came off of the collective shoulders of both the team and its fans, after a 5-2 win over the Chicago Fire secured the team’s first official trophy, the Supporter’s Shield. Without the curse, and possible the death of "That’s So Metro", the negative mentality won’t weigh the team down.
Here’s a little table to show the drastic difference in player movement the last three years before the start of the season.
|Season||No. of Players In||No. of Players Out|
*Would be 15 if Luke Rodgers was granted a US Visa.
This offseason is something Red Bull fans aren’t used to; quiet. There were the usual big names attached to the club, but nothing was ever serious. Part of the issue is the salary cap, which the Red Bulls are close to given some of the higher paid players. However, having a team that stays together makes a team stronger. Players who know each other can build chemistry. A coach doesn’t have to worry about teaching a system. Expectations are known. Which teams succeed in MLS? The LA Galaxy, Sporting Kansas City, Real Salt Lake, the teams that can keep their core group together. The Red Bulls will return 9 regular starters from last year (Markus Holgersson left; Brandon Barklage and Kosuke Kimura couldn’t secure a starting spot). This squad knows each other, and that will only lead to good things.
Mike F&^%ing Petke
Club Legend Mike Petke led the 2013 Red Bulls to their first trophy (Supporter’s Shield), and the best regular season record in club history (17-9-8). For good measure, he is the team record holder in appearances (169) and minutes played (14,060). He’s the man who showed Thierry Henry who is the boss, after an altercation on the training pitch, by benching him against rival DC United. There’s no mistaking who’s team this is, and in Petke we trust.
New Away Jersey
The Red Bulls have a new jersey, and it's a massive upgrade. While a jersey doesn't actually help on field play, it has to help the team's identity. Yellow has always been part of the team crest, and sponsor logo. Once we saw the yellow shorts pop up in a friendly at Arsenal in 2011, it was only a matter of time for yellow to make a real appearance in the jersey.
So, as you can see, the Red Bulls got this.