BY ERIC GIACOMETTI
Take it easy, Chicken Little; the sky is not falling.
Despite what most fans think, Sunday’s 4-1 loss to DC United is not the end of the world. Now that the pitiful effort and subsequent result has had some time to sink in, it’s time to put the debacle into perspective.
For starters, most fans had their expectations set way to high for this match. On the one hand, New York was on a good run of form (3-0-1 in the last four), so this mislead overconfidence isn’t exactly coming out of left field. Of course, I’m playing the role of Captain Hindsight here, but take a look at our starting XI last night.
Without Conde, Tainio, Rafa, and Miller, it’s hard to imagine this Red Bulls team performing as dominantly as their recent form had dictated. Just as we saw with the Gold Cup last year, missing starters is an enormous mountain to climb. As solid as Connor Lade had looked, he is, after all, a rookie. He made some rookie mistakes and the team ultimately paid for it (see DCU goal #2). Same goes for Victor Palsson. He was once again given a chance to prove himself in the starting lineup, and once again failed to impress (see DCU goal #3).
Now, that’s not to say that these two won’t come into their own throughout the course of the season, but expecting them to fit seamlessly into the lineup was perhaps a bit too optimistic. I’d have given Lindpere the nod over Palsson, but Backe says he doesn’t see him as a central midfielder unless deployed in a three CM formation. I guess he forgot about 2010…
Now before I go any further, let me send out this disclaimer: I am by no means turning a blind eye to our defensive woes. The back four have been absolutely deplorable, especially without Conde. The type of form displayed by our backline is simply not going to get it done in this league. Yes, Holgersson has been atrocious. Yes, Solli has shown little to nothing this season. But that doesn’t mean we should blow up the team and fire the manager, as many fans were crying out for last night.
At the end of the day, New York still stands in 3rd place in the East with a 3-3-1 record. There’s no need for panic just yet. Let’s worry about getting this team healthy before we jump to make such rash (hypothetical) decisions. At full strength, there’s no reason this team can’t compete for a place at the top of the table. And as was so kindly pointed out to me, Holgersson can’t really be that bad… can he?