…I’M CRAIG HUTCHINSON: IS THE SEASON’S BEST WIN SO FAR A SPRINGBOARD TO GREATNESS?

NewYorkRedBulls.com Correspondent Craig Hutchinson continues his regular column on RedBullsReader.com today with a look back at the Red Bulls match with Toronto FC and ahead to San Jose.  He wonders if Rafa’s improvements are signs the team is starting to hit its collective stride, and wonders what else might be in the club’s future on the field.  If you have a question or comment for Craig, share your thoughts in the comments section.How do you bounce back from a 1-0 loss in one of the most anticipated games of the season in your own stadium? How about heading on the road to face an undefeated home team and smash them 4-1? That’ll do!

Last week’s game against LA left some uncertainties around the team despite some positives that I highlighted in my last piece. Two of the biggest concerns were centered around the Red Bulls inabilities to finish chances and the less than impressive performance by Rafa Marquez in his home debut. Both of these concerns were thankfully just about laid to rest in Toronto.

Hans Backe said after the Galaxy game that he was pleased with the team’s overall performance and backed up his words by naming an unchanged side just seven days later. However despite the final one sided score, Toronto started the brighter of the teams and had chances to take the lead themselves several times; that was before Rafa stepped up and showed us all what he can do. I assume by now you have all seen his sublime half-volley by now, a very worthy winner of the MLS Goal of the Week (Brian Ching’s goal received a lot of votes, but I don’t respect bicycle kicks as much when they come from a bouncing ball, Rafa’s was technically far more difficult to execute).

If the first goal was exceptional, the second was fortuitous.  Joseph Nane was unsighted by his own teammates and had no time to react as the ball hit his legs and deflected into the goal. New York had other opportunities to completely wrap up the game creating several chances in the final minutes of the first half, but must have been feeling very confident heading in the changing rooms after 45 minutes. Those missed chances could have been punished after Toronto pulled one back after the half (a goal Bouna will no doubt be wishing he could have done better with), but Nana Attakora contributed the major turning point of the second half with a blatant and unnecessary handball in the box, resulting in a penalty goal for Angel and a red card for his troubles. The fourth goal was certainly the icing on the cake and I was personally delighted for Carl Robinson to notch up his first goal for the club. Robbo would have probably started most of the games this season if it hadn’t been for injury and he showed in this game the sound technical gifts he brings to the team. Additionally, with his father’s ailing health and the fact it was back at his former club, there was not a more fitting player to wrap up the win.

Aside from the score line, there were performances from certain players that caught the eye too. Tony Tchani in particular caught my eye. For most rookie players, their first priority is to not mess up and lose possession, therefore making a lot of safe sideways and backward passes. Tony was no different at first, but you can see he is now oozing confidence and is turning into a very talented playmaker looking to link the whole team together. Marquez’s performance, although not quite at his best, was a vast improvement and despite Henry’s missed chances, he is starting to look very sharp. Dane Richards continues his recent run of good form and the aforementioned Carl Robinson showed he is more than capable of filling in for Marquez should the situation arise.

A good game, a strong performance and an excellent result for the Red Bulls. It’s a game that made the rest of the league take notice, with many now worring about the potential that this team, with it’s collection of star players, may now be coming together and gelling in time for a run at and into the playoffs. Additionally, I still feel that the team is not yet firing on all cylinders and that Rafa and Thierry still have a couple more gears they can click into over the next few weeks. The prospect of further improvement from this game is exciting for all that follow the team and the league. Indeed, there will be a lot of interest as to what the encore performance will be this upcoming Saturday against San Jose at Red Bull Arena. The Earthquakes could be giving a first start to their new DP acquisition, Brazilian Geovanni which will add to a tough test against a team with only four points less than the Red Bulls with a game in hand. Let’s not forget that it was the Earthquakes that handed New York a 4-0 defeat at their place earlier this season.

I’ll hopefully see a lot of you there at Red Bull Arena on Saturday as we will see if this victory over Toronto was the sign of good things to come.

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.  Craig’s opinions do not necessarily reflect those of RedBullsReader or the New York Red Bulls.

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5 Responses to “…I’M CRAIG HUTCHINSON: IS THE SEASON’S BEST WIN SO FAR A SPRINGBOARD TO GREATNESS?”

  1. Jpjm79 Says:

    I like reading these columns Craig. It’s good to read some insight and opinion from someone close to the team.
    Are there any players on the team you think should be getting more minutes (robinson, garcia, hall)or some players who should get less (Richards, miller)?

  2. emilio Says:

    The teams gonna be tested in the match agaisnt Real Salt Lake on September 5th. Its crucial to get a win as Lindpere, Miller, Richards and Marquez have been called up for matches with their national team that week. Also there is a strong possibility Coundoul will be called up for Senegal and miss that match.

  3. CP Says:

    Nice column. 🙂

    Any idea if Kandji is still a possible transfer at this point?

  4. theredbullscritic Says:

    Nice piece Craig…I love the blog. Here are some of my thoughts about tomorrow’s game. Go Bulls!!!

    http://theredbullcritic.wordpress.com/2010/08/28/battle-of-the-dps-how-to-survive-an-earthquake/

  5. Michael A. Says:

    Tchani definitely is coming along well. A game like tomorrow’s against the Quakes really stands out as a test to see how far this team has come. Hopefully, the Red Bulls will step up in this match and make us proud.

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