Today I shared three questions with Dan Ferris of Once a Metro. He gave some great answers that I think you'll find very informative going into Saturday. Give it a read.
1) 0 wins in the last 8 games. That’s just not going to cut it for a team with so much potential. What does New York need to do this weekend to turn things around against Dallas?
This weekend isn't a good one for Red Bulls to begin to salvage something from their remaining games. They will be missing at least three out of their four starting defenders (Miller, Solli, and Marquez), and now Tim Ream has been listed as questionable for Saturday night. For a team whose lifeless defense has been conceding far too many goals this season and even made Vancouver look like FC Barcelona for stretches of play, maybe some new players a chance will at least inject some energy into the starting eleven.
An MLS record 16th tie this weekend agains Dallas would be an accomplishment for New York. If whatever lineup manager Hans Backe puts together is able to contain Dallas, it could send a message to the missing regulars that playing tough defense is actually possible
2) How is it that a team with a +4 goal differential has won just 6 of 27 games this season? It doesn’t really seem that NYRB has been terrible at any phase of the game but the results just aren’t there
The Red Bulls have conceded 38 goals in 28 matches - 5th worst in the league. The crazy thing is that twenty-eight out of thirty-eight goals have been conceded in just eleven of New York's twenty-seven games played. In other words, New York conceded 75% of their total goals allowed in just 40% of their matches. Big losses against Colorado, Seattle, and Real Salt Lake really hurt the differential, but were offset by big wins against MLS minnows Toronto FC (5-0) and San Jose (3-0), and a 4-0 thrashing of DC United at RFK earlier in the season. Besides that, the club has virtually tied every single game it's played in a league record fifteen times.
The team started the season really well - got handled at home against Chivas, and fell apart from there with Tim Ream calling out his teammates for being "cocky without having won anything," which was almost as entertaining as Frank Rost yelling at training this week about MLS being a "pussycat league." Injuries and international duty have particularly hurt the Red Bulls, but those problems have been exacerbated by a shocking lack of depth from the bench and reserves.
3) How has our old favorite Dax McCarty been getting on since moving to New York? Do you see him as a long-term signing and possible captain candidate in the future?
Poor Dax - he represents such bad personel decision failures that many supporters were more than eager to jump all over him at the first sign of a slow or shaky start with New York. A must-read for anyone interested in McCarty actually argued the opposite - our friends over at Empire of Soccer recently wrote how Dax is shouldering far too much blame and is not solely responsible for his slow start.
Personally, I have seen flashes of the Dax McCarty that I really admired for a few seasons but so far he has largely been a disappointment. The guy used to be tireless - causing havoc in the midfield breaking up plays and creating on teh counterattack. Now it seems like he's rarely involved, which is either because of his performance, how Backe is using him on the field, or a combination of both.
To be fair, McCarty has often been paired with worthless Mehdi Ballouchy or Joel Lindpere who really belongs on the wing as he and New York's first choice central midfielder Teemu Tainio have only been paired together five times since McCarty was traded in late June. And in those five matches, New York is modestly unbeaten at 1-0-4.
Bonus question: We know Marquez, Henry, Agudelo and Dax but who is a name Dallas fans may not be too familiar with that could play a big role in Saturday’s game?
Luke Rodgers - he did not play when FC Dallas traveled to Red Bull Arena earlier in the season since he's been suffering from a lingering foot injury in recent months. He came off the bench for a ten minute appearance against Vancouver last weekend and it sounds like he may get additional time Saturday night.
While he probably won't start or go the full ninety minutes, he's exactly the type of player who can cause major problems for any defense and will be keen to score his first goal since returning from injury. If Backe also continues to use Agudelo off the bench against Dallas, that's a lot of second half attacking potential for any team to handle.