BY ERIC GIACOMETTI
Damn, it’s been too long. After my last post, I had to wait until the boys at the very least clinched playoff spot before I felt safe enough to peek my head out of the hole I had escaped to.
Now before we go any further, let me just begin by saying that there are some things that you are about to read that may piss you off and/or leave you questioning my sobriety … but then again, isn’t that par for the course? Hear me out; I’m not totally crazy just yet.
Hear that, folks? No, it’s not time to change the batteries on your fire alarm. That my friends is the sweet cacophony of New York backing its way into the playoffs. Drink it in. Now while the 2012 regular season has been far from perfect (and I mean Felix Baumgartner far), the fact remains that we’re here. Forget about Soler’s demotion, forget about Backe’s job security and enjoy the ride that lies ahead. With one final tune up at Philly remaining, who’s to say New York can’t make a run at MLS Cup?
There may still be seeding up for grabs, but it doesn’t make much of a difference to me. Would we like to avoid the elimination round? Of course we would, but if the Red Bulls are gunning for silverware, there’s no doubt that they’ll have to go through the likes of Chicago and Kansas City to get there. Where and when we play the MLS elite matters little to me. With the team at just about full strength, and coming off one of their best performances of the season, you can’t tell me that a win against the Worms wouldn’t make the Red Bulls a team to fear in the playoffs.
If there’s one plea I can make with Hans, it’d be to stop, for the love of all that is holy, STOP playing Dax McCarty anywhere but in front of the back four. Sticking him on the left makes little to no sense. Sorry I’m not sorry, but Tainio doesn’t belong in our starting XI right now. With the backbone of our team consisting of Rafa Marquez, McCarty, and Tim Cahill, that should more than suffice in terms of ball winners and distribution. And while not my favorite, I see the new backline of Lade-Holgersson-Rafa-Pearce as one that can get the job done. Pearce doesn’t join the attack quite as well as say Roy Miller, but he and Lade did a solid job stifling SKC’s well-documented wing threats.
As for the new center back pairing? Gotta say, I’m a fan. I know everyone loves to hate on Rafa, but I’ll keep saying it; the dude can bring it when he wants to/is healthy. There’s a certain calm that falls over the team when you have Rafa patrolling the backline. He picks his head up and usually picks out the right pass. He’s someone Holgersson can rely on to distribute out of the back, and Pearce already said he’s gotten comfortable with the new tandem on the left side of the defense.
In a perfect world, we’d line up something like this:
But hey, with Hans, you never know.
So is this a team of destiny? Perhaps I was a bit too overzealous on that one. But why can’t this be a team that makes a legit run at MLS Cup? Any time you can boast as much talent as the Red Bulls can, a moment of inspiration, a flash of brilliance, is never too far away. This may not be the year that this long-suffering fan base gets to celebrate its first meaningful trophy, but I’m not ready to throw in the towel just yet. Get out to RBA, sing your hearts out, and get behind this team. And amidst a crazy season of ups and downs, these boys may have one more surprise left in store for ye of little faith.