Jack Bell’s comprehensive assessment of the New York Red Bulls from the New York Times Goal blog rings the mighty bell of truth in a lot of spots.
I’d quibble only with one minor line. Bell says Henry might rightfully be seething because he’s surrounded by “mostly mediocre quality and he simply cannot raise them to his level.”
But isn’t it Henry’s job, as a well-paid MLS mercenary, to lead from the front, to make the tasks easier around him and inspire teammates to become greater versions of themselves? Or is it just a “score goal, get check” kind of gig?
Either way, I don’t see the Red Bulls roster as mediocre. I mean, compared to the young band of brothers south of Red Bull Arena in Philadelphia? Or the grab bag of this and that in New England’s? Or the seemingly unbalanced lot at D.C. United (heavy on quality attackers, lesser equipped in the rear)? At Red Bull Arena, for instance:
- Joe Lindpere: a diligent, above average and still perhaps underrated MLS midfielder.
- Dax McCarty: good blend of technical ability and blue collar work ethic.
- Dane Richards: speedy of foot (though dubious of decision making) he’s got game-breaking qualities.
- Teemu Tainio: more than competent in a holding midfield role.
- Rafa Marquez: Obvious ability, when he can be bothered.
- Juan Agudelo and Kenny Cooper: flawed in areas, perhaps, but hardly hamburger
Point is, there’s sufficient quality encircling Henry. It ain’t Arsenal. Then again, this ain’t the Premiership.
This is all about chemistry, balance, esprit de corps and stitching it smartly together on the field. And “want-to.” There’s some missing “want-to” around Red Bull Arena.
After all, the Los Angeles Galaxy won an MLS Cup with guys like Mike Magee, Sean Franklin, A.J. DeLaGarza, Josh Saunders and Chad Barrett – solid MLS types, but not difference-making power packs. That’s just the way it must be in salary-capped MLS.
I’ll have more on the Red Bulls tomorrow, one astute fan’s view of this current brew of Harrison hash.