…I’M CRAIG HUTCHINSON: THE RED BULLS TAKE TWO STEPS TOWARDS THE CHAMPIONSHIP IN FOUR DAYS

NewYorkRedBulls.com Correspondent Craig Hutchinson continues his regular column on RedBullsReader.com today with a look back at an eventful week for the club.  He gives his take on the win over Colorado, and reflects on the careers of the three Red Bulls who have announced retirements, as well as the clubs acquisition of playmaker Mehdi Ballouchy.  If you have a question or comment for Craig, share your thoughts in the comments section.

I could really begin this column as I began the last one, it’s been a busy week in the world of Red Bull New York; aside from another victory at Red Bull Arena we also saw another New York favorite announce his retirement and a trade of significance. Let’s look at these things in order.

Looking at the month of September in advance it looked to be a very challenging month playing the best four teams in the West and three of them on the road. The game deemed ‘easiest’, if you can say that about a team who had just seven less points than the Red Bulls, was Colorado at home this past weekend. Many people saw it as a must-win game, and the Red Bulls didn’t let anyone down, turning in a commanding performance during a 3-1 win. Not only was it another three points, but the team took control of the game for long periods of the match.

There were some thoughts how those returning from internationals would fair after enduring much travel and playing multiple games during the week; we need not have given it any thought. Dane Richards continued his fine form of late, and after being denied a great solo goal in the first half, used his newly discovered cutback move in the second to create space for a shot which he put away for a goal in the second half. Rafa Marquez showed what a class player he is with his constant ability to break up attacks and distribute the ball with deadly accuracy; his free-kick to Tony Tchani also helped assist the second goal. Roy Miller turned in a very effective performance up the left hand side, while Bouna was solid between the sticks and could not be faulted (as no one could really) for Omar Cummings’ phenomenal solo goal (I originally thought a defender should have stepped up to pressure the ball, but after watching the goal again they defended by the book, delayed so not to exploit space behind, then step as the attacker enters shooting range – it was simply a phenomenal strike). Other noteworthy items from the game was a great goal by Thierry Henry, beautifully worked by the Frenchman and Estonian Joel Lindpere on the left, and the first goal of Tim Ream’s professional career. Tim has become a crowd favorite this season with a series of impressive performances at the back in his rookie season, and I can say that after chatting with him on many occasions he is a great guy and no one deserved a goal more than him this week after going close several times recently.

Mike Petke and John Wolyniec. Two beloved players who represented New York as both a MetroStar and Red Bull have already announced that they will be hanging up their boots in 2010. On Tuesday a new player announced they will be on that list, Seth Stammler. All three are loved and respected by fans for their commitment and hard work to the team.  What separates Seth from John and Mike is where they are in their careers; whereas Wolyniec and Petke are in their mid 30’s with their better days behind them, Stammler will be just 29 at the season’s end, seemingly in the peak of his career. This decision may bewilder most fans who see being a professional athlete as the greatest job in the world, me included. It then speaks to the character and intelligence of a man who can turn down the short term benefits of being a professional soccer player to pursue something that will ultimately give him and his family long term satisfactory and security. I was aware that Seth has been combining studying with playing in recent weeks, but this came as a surprise to anyone outside those who knows him best. Still, gaining acceptance to study for an advanced degree at the University of Chicago is an opportunity probably even more rare than becoming a professional soccer player, so I wish him all the best for the future as well as the rest of the season.

Stammler’s retirement means Carlos Mendes will now be the longest tenured player with the team, and the final one who joined when we were still the MetroStars. Last time I checked with him he had no plans of retirement of soccer – unless his music career takes off and he gets offered a big contract from a record company!

I was heading to training Tuesday morning ready to film my usual game preview for FC Dallas this week and got the news when I arrived; we had traded Mac Kandji to Colorado for Mehdi Ballouchy. As always with news like that I was a little surprised, but when I sat back and thought about it I realized what a great trade this could turn out to be. I’ve read many comments on the web from fans who are disappointed we gave up Kandji.  I’m a little disappointed too, he was a real nice guy with great potential and we all saw flashes of the skills he possesses. What we never really saw from him however was the ability to put it all together and give the team a great level of consistency, something Ballouchy has been doing for a while at Colorado. The Red Bull coaching staff has spoke all season of a need for that classic #10 playmaker that can link the midfield and attack, and they have landed a player who is capable of that. Tony Tchani has been performing admirably in that role in recent weeks but having a high level of competition for places is never a bad thing. Plus there are several other forwards at the club that can replace Mac down the road. We already have the experienced Salou and have seen Conor Chinn score goals this season, but right now everyone seams very high on Juan Agudelo and for those who have yet to see him play, this kid could be the next MLS superstar! I wish Mac the best with Colorado and hope he can become the elite player he promised to be, but the fact that we have traded a player with potential to be very good for a player that already consistently is says to me that this is a team looking to win now and claim the ultimate prize this season.

Thursday’s game against Dallas will be a good measuring stick to see how close is to making that happen.

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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3 Responses to “…I’M CRAIG HUTCHINSON: THE RED BULLS TAKE TWO STEPS TOWARDS THE CHAMPIONSHIP IN FOUR DAYS”

  1. wallstreetstrip Says:

    OMG! I love your blog! I love Red Bull!

  2. Old Players Need not Apply Says:

    This is a terrible trade. We are counting on that waste of space Angel again. He’s slow, constantly offside, and not a team player.

  3. jpjr77 Says:

    Old Players Need Not Apply – you comment is dumb in at least two ways.
    1. Whether Kandji was here or not, Angel would start. And what have you seen from Kandji over the last 2 and a bit seasons that suggests he is worth keeping?
    2. Are you talking about the same Angel that has scored 60 goals in 104 games for the Red Bulls and 12 in 24 this season? He is 34 so you’re not going to see him sprinting around the field like a 21 year old, but he is still the best finisher in the league and will get you more goals than Kandji would (6 goals in 41 games for the record). Idiot.
    We just traded a player that was going to contribute barely anything for the rest of the season for a player that could contribute a lot AND shaved a lot of cash off the salary cap. Great trade, I agree with all the points Craig makes here, especially that Agadelo being a ready replacement for Kandji on the bench. He looked awesome when I saw him in the academy games

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