By Ryan Fleming
The New York Red Bulls are in dire times. This statement could have been repeated countless times this season. Each time Hans Backe would have replied, ‘things will be alright and the team would get through it.’ Well, Mr. Backe, this is your last chance.
When Thursday night rolls around and you take on Landon Donovan, David Beckham and the suddenly out-spoken Mike Magee, you must win. If Thierry Henry, Tim Ream and Juan Agudelo leave the Home Depot Center with their heads down, you will surely be walking out of New York with your head down, too.
You have two of the three highest paid players in the league (Henry and the foolish Rafa Marquez). You have one of the United States’ brightest emerging talents in Agudelo. One of the league’s best supplies, Joel Lindpere, generaling the midfield. Luke Rogers and Ream are also players who can change the complexion of the game at anytime. Still, you are teetering on the edge. And have been throughout the season.
One of the reasons for this is the acquisition of Marquez. The former Mexican sensation has been all but for one you in New York. You brought him to be the kind of leader he has been for the Mexican National team and the kind he was in Barcelona for seven years. He has been anything but.
He can’t keep up with the league’s pace, and is consistently left out trailing offensive attackers. His $4.6m salary is a joke and the entire league is laughing. Though, probably by accident he actually helped — yes helped — the club by invoking LA’s Juninho into getting red carded, too, in Saturday’s post match melee, which the Mexican started. Both players miss Thursday’s mass, but more importantly for NY, is that the Galaxy won’t be able to play as fast without Juninho – a central player in the team’s midfield who does a lot of covering for David Beckham.
Sometimes, in big matches, emotions run high, and like the fracas that took place after Sunday night’s game, those emotions can get the better of you. You need to keep your players in check, make sure your leaders, like what Marquez was supposed to be, are there to keep your players in check and not getting themselves ejected. You cannot afford players like Henry getting the boot.
Play Agudelo. It is that simple. Sure the true savior of the game was LA’s keeper, Josh Saunders, who made countless invaluable saves, but you didn’t even play your second best forward. Surely, you’ll do anything you have to, to win come Thursday night. Just don’t leave this man on the bench. On the field, I assure you, is the best place to have your creative striker playing. In 12 matches he has scored six goals, an obvious average of a goal every other game. That’s not too shabby.
There are no more excuses. It’s a trying time, we know that. Getting by LA is priority No. 1. For you Mr. Backe, it is now or never.
Ryan Fleming can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.