Once A Metro called Ali Curtis a cold-hearted genius earlier this season, and
we're I'm sticking by it: he appears to have an emotionless fixation on pursuing whatever he deems best for the New York Red Bulls and their RalfBallphilosophy. It is a ruthlessness that would make Herr Rangnick (himself seemingly unafraid of the unpopular decision) proud.
The latest evidence: a report from BigAppleSoccer.com's Kristian Dyer stating Curtis tried to pull off what would have been arguably the most audacious abuse of MLS rules by this club since Bob Bradley told Eddie Gaven to sub in as a 'keeper. The report also explains why the Red Bulls were silent for so long on the subject of exactly when Miazga's suspension was likely to kick in (clarification arrived today).
Per BAS, RBNY had agreed a plan with US Soccer regarding Matt Miazga's ongoing CONCACAF Olympic qualifying duty: the defender would play the opening two games of the USA's group stage matches, but skip back to New York for the October 14 game against Montreal. So he'd have missed the U-23s' third game of the group. One suspects that agreement might have been contingent on (as happened) the USA winning its first two matches and being assured of qualification for the semifinal round before the third game kicked off.
As it happened, Miazga sat out that third group-stage match for the USA - but he didn't come home.
When Miazga picked up two yellow cards and a two-game suspension in his last game before he left for international duty, it would have been fair to assume that nixed the Red Bulls' carefully laid plan: he was suspended from MLS; there was no point in winging back to Harrison just to be a spectator. Nope.
Apparently, Ali Curtis looked at the lemons of Miazga's situation and saw a way to make lemonade: if US Soccer would stick the agreement and let the defender miss the final group-stage game, then he could make a quick trip back to Red Bull Arena and technically be "available" for the Montreal game. And that would mean he would able to serve one match of his two-match suspension. And that would mean Miazga would be available for two of RBNY's last three games of the regular season instead of just one, as had been assumed.
US Soccer declined the proposal because it is crazy talk: "Say again, Ali? You want us to send you back Matt - you know we're in Colorado right now, yes? You want us to send him on a flight back to you so he can sit in the Arena and watch a game he cannot play in - and then he's going to fly back out to Utah afterwards?"
It's a mad plan. Much of the benefit of the rest days between the end of the Olympic qualifying group stage and the semifinal would have been lost to Miazga, since he'd have been flying around the country. Maybe that was a risk worth taking to let him help his club out in a tight race for the Supporters' Shield, but once he wasn't going to be able to take the field - it is surely in his best interest to just accept his situation and put full attention toward helping the get to the Olympic men's soccer tournament.
But it's a special sort of madness exhibited by Curtis: the sort of madness that won't rest until it is certain it has squeezed every possible advantage out of a situation that would have been abandoned as hopeless by most teams.
And perhaps that is the purpose behind the decision to let this story leak into the public domain: to let us know that while every plan doesn't work out, Ali Curtis thinks of everything, and he'll happily eviscerate the spirit and intention of any rule MLS can dream up if it will bring an advantage to RBNY.
You take the rough with the smooth with any player or member of the front office. We saw the rough side of Curtis first (does that need to be explained? We've suffered enough, no?), now we're seeing the smooth. He is RBNY's ceaseless predator, stalking the league's rule book for loopholes and unintended consequences he can try to exploit to the team's benefit.
Well played (almost), Ali. The next time RBNY goes quiet on a seemingly straightforward question, we'll remember this moment and assume the silence means you're up to something - and we'll take that as an encouraging sign.