The New York Red Bulls are back in the MLS Playoffs, and they'll need their Best XI, especially at Center Back. Damien Perrinelle is an automatic starter, so who joins him?
Ronald Zubar was considered a big signing, with big expectations of anchoring the back line. Multiple injuries have kept him off the pitch for a long stretches in 2015. However when healthy, Zubar has shown he is a solid center back, albeit with occasional costly mistakes.
The other main option is 20-year-old Matt Miazga. He's been the replacement for Zubar, and has played his way into the starting lineup. Like Zubar, he is a solid center back, but has had his bad moments (like a red card v. NYC FC). Despite the mistakes, his performance during the year has drawn interest from Europe in the process.
The biggest favor for Miazga is the team's performance with him in the lineup. Of New York's 18 wins, Miazga has been on the field for 83% of them. Though many may believe his youth (and animated nature) to be a negative, he's a leader in the back line. His 6'4" frame gives RBNY a huge advantage in the air, and his pace and soccer IQ makes him better at closing down on attackers than Zubar is.
This is not to say Ronald Zubar doesn't have positives of his own. Why else would the team sign him? The negatives are just too much though. Miazga has played more than Zubar, giving Miazga an edge on chemistry. Zubar is also more prone to panic inducing moments, like the failed clearance at Toronto FC. His injury history this year does not suggest a good fit for a tough stretch of games. It's clear to anyone who watches that Miazga is the better option entering the playoffs.