…I’M CRAIG HUTCHINSON: TWO POINTS GAINED OR FOUR POINTS LOST?

NewYorkRedBulls.com Correspondent Craig Hutchinson continues his regular column on RedBullsReader.com today with a look at the signing of Rafa Marquez and the impact the Mexican captain could have on the team and MLS, as well as his and Henry’s MLS debuts.  If you have a question or comment for Craig, share your thoughts in the comments section.

Wow! It’s been a busy couple of weeks since I last wrote for RBR!

Since my previous piece on the Barclays New York Challenge we’ve seen Thierry Henry make his MLS debut, the signing of Rafa Marquez and the first five DP game in MLS history during the team’s 0-0 draw with Chicago this past Sunday.

There’s so much I would love to discuss right now, but I’ll try and keep it concise for you. Let’s begin with Marquez and what his signing can mean for the club and MLS in general.

There are some MLS fans out there that are having a little moan about the moves the Red Bulls have made, complaining that the team is becoming the Yankees of the MLS by trying to buy their way to the title and so forth. The Red Bulls’ last two games have been on the road, and both games have seen attendances of over 20,000 fans. Clearly these signings not only benefit the Red Bulls ability to win games, but also raises the league’s notoriety to those soccer fans out there that the league has failed to attract before. More specifically, the European and Hispanic communities that remain loyal to their own leagues and teams, but not the local teams of where they now live.

The Marquez signing in particular could be monumental in the history of this league. We all know that whenever Mexico plays in the area that the game sells out, whether it be at the old Giants Stadium or the New Meadowlands Stadium. These fans can now cheer for their national team captain every week in Red Bull Arena and who knows; maybe they end up cheering for the rest of the team too. But this signing holds way more value than just the ability to sell a few shirts and shift a few tickets. At just 31 years old, Rafa is still very much in the prime of his career. Just speaking to Hans Backe and Erik Soler last week, I can see the excitement on their faces and hear it in their voices when they talk about Marquez the player (remember that Hans coached Marquez for a year when he was an assistant coach of the Mexican national team). He does not have the style of play that you can make a typical highlight reel out of, but he does the little things in front of the back four as good as anyone in world football and his vision and ability to distribute the ball from the middle will make a huge difference in linking the defense and attack.

Sunday we got to see him in a Red Bull shirt for the first time, although like Henry, he’s coming from the European leagues which have been in the middle of their off season and are not yet in full game shape. Despite that, we could all still see glimpses of his ability to break up opposition attacks and begin ours with the excellent touch he possesses. Thierry is also showing a return to game shape and a willingness to run at the defense a little more until his evening ended early due to a slight groin strain. His removal from the game was more of a precaution than cause for real concern so we should expect him back Wednesday night.

For the second consecutive week the team came away with a road point against a potentially difficult team, something most teams would be happy with. Not this team. And not given the circumstances.

If the Houston game was a heartbreaker given the timing of Dynamo’s equalizer, the Chicago game was more frustration than anything.

If the first half saw an even number of chances at both ends, the second half was one way traffic and I know Hans and the team were disappointed not to score and take all three points. That said, there were many positives the team can take away from this game. The defense was exceptional and Bouna was hardly troubled the whole game. I was pleased to see Carlos Mendes respond with a top class game as I know he held himself accountable for Houston’s 90th minute goal the week before. Additionally, the fact that we were able to create so many chances away from home is a credit to the team also, especially considering we lost Henry before halftime and Marquez came off around the hour mark.

Wednesday will see Toronto come to Red Bull Arena and New York hindered slightly as international call-ups for Bouna, Roy Miller, Dane Richards and Marquez will see them absent from the game. This could create some interesting things to look out for however with Greg Sutton making his league debut for the club and Carl Robinson possibly getting his first league start since returning from injury. For both players it would be against their former club and I’m sure they’re going to be looking to prove a point to both their current and former clubs.

If the team can replicate its performance from Chicago against Toronto, I’m confident that chances will turn into goals this time round.

Finally, I wanted to send my regards to both John Wolyniec and Kevin Goldthwaite who we both waived by the club in the last two weeks. Not only are both highly dedicated and hard working pros, both were absolute gentlemen off the field. I spoke with both several times this season while corresponding for the team and several times prior when they would visit camps and clinics run by the Red Bulls Training Programs. I have nothing but good things to say about both men and wish them nothing but the best with the next phase of their careers. Cheers fellas.

Until next time, I’m Craig Hutchinson…

Craig hails from the town of Barnsley in South Yorkshire, England and gained a BA honors degree in Sports Studies and Physical Education at the University of York St. John, North Yorkshire, England. After graduation, he worked for five years as a professional youth soccer coach throughout the United States. He joined the New York Red Bulls in 2008 as a coach in the youth Training Programs and Regional Development Schools. He became the team’s video broadcaster at the beginning of the 2010 season.

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6 Responses to “…I’M CRAIG HUTCHINSON: TWO POINTS GAINED OR FOUR POINTS LOST?”

  1. shirts for women Says:

    I also think that if New York replicate their performance from Chicago against Toronto they have a good chance of getting a solid win.

  2. danlaf35 Says:

    Have to come out of tonight with three points. What better way to build a great stir of momentum for next season than to win the MLS cup, or at least make the final after an abysmal season last year!

  3. Starks in Tampa Says:

    3 points is a must tonight…I wish Rafa was playing.

    • jmp Says:

      Marquez played very good last game. His debut was more impressive than Henry’s. What a player you guys have gotten hold of, what a player – in his prime!!!!!! congrats

  4. Starks in Tampa Says:

    By the way…I dont know about you guys but I gotta give kudos to our boy Craig Hutchinson.

    Keep up the great work Craig and I wish you much success.

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