…I’M CRAIG HUTCHINSON: CONTROVERSY IN DALLAS; ANTICIPATION IN LA

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 match last weekend in Dallas, as well as looks ahead to the big match with the Galaxy tonight.  He also weighs in on the acquisition of Carey Talley.  If you have a question or comment for Craig, share your thoughts in the comments section.

I think most people associated with the Red Bulls, including the fans, would have taken a point from the Dallas game prior to kick-off, especially considering the long unbeaten streak FCD had been on. In the end, some were slightly disappointed with a point given the way the way the game played out, more specifically, with the Red Bulls having a man advantage for most of the game after Brek Shea’s red card in the first half. Yet, as we’ve seen numerous times in the past, teams who get reduced to 10 men sometimes rally around the fact they have a numerical disadvantage and turn in a much better performance than those who still have 11 on the field.  This was perhaps the case here.

It was positive however to see the team fight it’s way back from a goal down twice and score leveling goals towards the end of each half, with the first one going to Mehdi Ballouchy on his debut for the team. What followed the goal was a bit of a bizarre and controversial moment as Thierry Henry tried to smash the ball back into the goal in celebration and struck through the ball into Kevin Hartman’s foot, twisting the ‘keepers knee so much he had to be taken from the game. Debate has circled as to where the blame lies here and Henry was fined $2000 for his role in the incident. Was it necessary for Thierry to smash the ball in the goal? No, but it is common place in the game to see that happen and Hartman said afterwards he saw Henry running to the ball and intentionally stuck his foot out to block it. Call me a homer for New York, but this was simply an unfortunate accident and certainly not something Henry should be vilified for.

Although the second goal was classed as an own goal, it was largely due to the presence of Juan Pablo Angel (and of course Joel Lindpere who assisted both goals with crosses from the left). JPA was somewhat controversially (if you look at fan opinion) left on the bench by Hans Backe for the first time this season for tactical reasons.  He came into the game looking like a man with a point to prove and that’s exactly how he’s looked in training this week also. There shall be no such selection debate for this week’s game as the club has already announced that Thierry Henry will not travel to LA as he is carrying a mild knee strain (ironically, the same injury as Kevin Hartman). Angel will simple slip into the slot vacated by Henry.

With the star power that both LA and New York boast, plus the rivalry between the two major cities, Galaxy verses the Red Bulls is now undoubtedly the marquee fixture in Major League Soccer. That, coupled with the fact the both teams are doing exceptionally well this season makes this game a must see event for soccer fans across the country. For the Red Bulls, it is an important game to ensure that they keep themselves in at least second place in the East to guarantee a playoff spot, but a win will also put them just six points behind the Galaxy for the overall point total. Aside for the tangibles, this could also be a big boost for the team mentally. New York have lost just three league games since May, but those three games were against LA, Columbus and Salt Lake, three teams that have more points than the Red Bulls. A positive result against LA will give the team confidence knowing they can compete with the leagues elite come playoff time.

Finally, since my last column the Red Bulls made another trade and acquired veteran MLS defender Carey Talley. It may not have the same headlines as recent player acquisitions, but it is a shrewd move by Erik Soler (at the recommendation of Richie Williams I believe) to solidify the roster heading down the final stretch. When speaking to Hans earlier in the week, he told me the key reason for this trade was to have at least two players to cover every position, meaning Carey, who has spent much of his career at center-half, will be challenging for a spot at right-back. It makes a lot of sense logistically as we did not have any proper cover at that position.  Jeremy Hall, Luke Sassano and Carlos Mendes have filled in at the position at some point this season, but none of them are naturals at the position (and of course, Luke is out for the season after an ankle operation). Plus, its worth noting that the Red Bulls have a plethora of draft picks for next season, so we gave up next to nothing to add valuable depth and experience to the roster. I spoke with Carey earlier in the week (the video is already on RBR if you haven’t seen it yet!). He seams to be a great clubhouse guy and obviously very happy to be given the opportunity to help contribute and challenge for an MLS Cup this year given that only a few days ago he was with the worse team in the league.

Talley will be immediately challenging for a spot for the game against the Galaxy, especially if Chris Albright fails to fully recover from a niggling injury he’s had recently. If he plays, let’s hope he has the immediate impact Mehdi Ballouchy had last week because regular season games don’t get much bigger and more anticipated than this.

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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One Response to “…I’M CRAIG HUTCHINSON: CONTROVERSY IN DALLAS; ANTICIPATION IN LA”

  1. jpjr77 Says:

    I like that Richie has having a say in the players brought in as he knows this league as good as anybody. Great read Craig.

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