New York Red Bulls 2014 Mid-Year Report Card

Red Bulls Report Card

BY MARK FISHKIN
Staff Writer

With all the World Cup madness going on, the Red Bulls midseason mark passed without much fanfare.

However, last week’s draw at Houston brought the team to the midpoint of its MLS schedule.  As we featured on EOS last season, here’s a mid-season report card for the 4-5-8 New York Red Bulls.

(Players are listed in order of minutes played to date)

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Luis Robles (17/17, 1.53 GAA, 3 shutouts)

While the stats don’t bear it, Robles has singlehandedly kept the Red Bulls in the hunt for the playoffs.  With Roxburgh’s ineffective backline acquisitions, New York’s keeper has faced more shots than anyone else in MLS. Despite ranking twelfth in goal-against average, Robles has been stellar, and with ten saves on the night, was singlehandedly responsible for New York breaking a twelve-year winless drought in New England on June 8th.  Garnered ten-plus saves three times this season.

The grade: A-

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Lloyd Sam (17/17, 1G/6A)
In the first months of the season, Sam was the offensive engine from the right wing.  The Englishman’s three assists in the season’s first five games helped sustain the team during its winless start.  Though his point production has fallen off a bit as of late, Sam forces the opposition to match his speed whether he whips balls into the box or pulls it back and goes for goal.
The grade: A-

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Eric Alexander (17/15, 1G, 5A)

Alexander’s inconsistent form represents a version of the team in miniature.  To his credit, the six-year MLS veteran is having his best statistical season of his career, but often Alexander simply disappears for entire matches. Yes, he has played both centrally and on the left, and yes, he’s capable of delivering picture-perfect forty-yard passes as he did in Houston last week, but his infrequent stellar play depresses his grade.
The grade: B-

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Jamison Olave (14/14)

The backline rock has done everything asked of him to date this season.  While playing with a revolving door of linemates, Olave has played all but a single minute of matches played on natural surfaces in 2014.  Continues to consistently take away scoring threats and clear away headers with ease.
The grade: B+

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Thierry Henry (14/14, 3G, 6A)

No one is more frustrated with the team’s lack of success than the World Cup Champion.  While Henry won’t sprint as much as he did when he arrived in Harrison in 2010, his touch is unrivaled in MLS. The Frenchman’s backheel to Cahill in Houston is an amazing example of his skill.  Henry is on pace to match his MLS-high twelve assists in 2012.  Henry has gone 89+ minutes in every match he’s played in this season, but that durability comes with a price, as he will give up on chasing balls placed ahead of him. Henry hasn’t scored since April 23rd, a drought of eight matches.

The grade: B+

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Bradley Wright-Phillips (13/13, 14G)

Though he added the lone New York goal in the 4-1 season opener at Vancouver, BWP lifted himself into best XI material after ripping off eight goals in four matches in April and May. The Englishman has two hat tricks this season, and scored both goals in last week’s draw at Houston.  Simply put, Wright-Phillips cannot stop scoring goals, and has 53 percent of the Red Bulls’ goal output for the year.
The grade: A+

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Dax McCarty (14/13, 1G, 1A)

Dax just simply hasn’t been the Dax that Red Bulls fans expect this season.  Recurring back problems have plagued the fan favorite all season, and a fractured kneecap pushed McCarty to the sideline in May.  Without a fit Dax taking away space ahead of the back line, opposing offenses have teed off on Robles’ net with impunity. In order for New York to contend for an MLS Cup this season, a healthy McCarty must return to form.

The grade: C+

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Armando (14/11)

Armando came to the Red Bulls as a replacement for the more expensive Markus Holgersson, only with less discretion or speed. Beaten with regularity, and a yellow card-machine early in the season (three in the first four matches), the Spaniard has all but lost his starting spot to the homegrown Matt Miazga. Red Bulls fans are correct in wondering if he’ll ever wear the shirt again.
The grade: D-

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Roy Miller (11/10, 2A)

Until he left for the Costa Rican national team, Miller was a having his best season as a Red Bull. Whether pushing up and creating down the left, or cutting out attackers, Miller’s 2014 has been a revelation.  The Red Bulls are 1-2-3 since Miller’s departure.  Though he suffered a quad pull in Brazil and will miss Saturday’s match v Columbus, New York fans have to hope he’s back in form with the club, and soon.
The grade: A-

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Peguy Luyindula (14/9, 4G)

What can be said about a man that’s quadrupled his 2013 goal production in only half a season!  In all seriousness, the Frenchman has become a much more important member of the team in his second season in New York.  Luyindula has made only two ninety-minute appearances for the Red Bulls on the season, but has formidably covered Cahill’s World Cup absence.  The key for Peguy is maintaining playing time now that Cahill has returned.

The grade: B+

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Kosuke Kimura (11/9, 2A)

Roxburgh and Petke decided to jettison Brandon Barklage and keep right back Kimura, but the Japanese’s largely ineffective play allowed rookie Chris Duvall to take his place in the starting XI.  Did link well with Sam on the right side early, but was unable to close down attackers in the back.  Kimura played the full ninety in all four of New York’s victories this season.
The grade: C-

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Ibrahim Sekagya (10/9)

The Ugandan has been less than “McCarty quality” in a backup role at defensive mid, and one wonders where Sekagya will fit when Dax returns.  Red-carded in the home win v Union. Yellows at Chicago and at New England.
Grade: B-

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Bobby Convey (10/8)

In his twelfth MLS season and fifth MLS team, Convey serves as a utility man at left back and left mid. Hasn’t taken a shot since March 15th v Colorado.  Started four straight matches after Miller departed. Convey seems to have been pushed down the depth chart past young Ambroise Oyongo.
The grade: C-

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Jonny Steele (15/6 1G, 2A)

Steele’s performance, production, and place in Mike Petke’s lineup have all dropped precipitously in 2014.  Steele did not start in any of New York’s victories this year, but he was subbed on in all of them.  Steele scored a pretty goal and had an assist in the 2-2 draw at Montreal on April 5th, but the Northern Irishman has offered little since.
The grade: C+

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Tim Cahill (9/7, 1G, 1A)

Unless the Australian legend goes on a massive tear, Cahill won’t match the 11 goals he scored in 2013 after a slow spring. However, he triumphantly announced his return to MLS with a wondrous header to BWP to set up the tying goal in the home draw v Toronto. After battling a hamstring injury early in the season, Cahill scored what may be the goal of the World Cup in Brazil, giving Red Bulls fans hope for great run in the second half of MLS campaign.

The grade: B

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Chris Duvall (6/5)

The Wake Forest product made his debut in the two-nil loss at Toronto on May 17th, and has owned the right back position ever since.  Duvall showed fire by taking down a Cosmos player and drawing a red card in the waning moments of the US Open Cup loss.  Red Bulls have a single shutout (and a single win) when Duvall on the field.

The grade: B+

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Richard Eckersley (4/4)

Started the first four matches of the season for New York, and after conceding seven goals in those matches, was sent to the bench, not to return.  Slow and unable to slow down anyone, Eckersley quickly illustrated to the New York braintrust why Toronto was willing to part with him for all of a fourth-round draft pick.

The grade: F

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Matt Miazga (4/3, 1A)

Added to the starting lineup on June 8th, Miazga helped New York win at New England, and delivered a super ball to Cahill to help manufacture the tying goal against Toronto.  While it’s early, the future is bright for the US U20 International.
Grades: B+

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Ambroise Oyongo (2/2, 2A)

Started at Cosmos and was overmatched, but has delivered assists in each of his two MLS starts.  The Cameroonian had a highlight-reel play making Houston’s Andrew Driver look silly on July 4th.
Grades: B+

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Ruben Bover, Connor Lade, & Andre Akpan

The three have 109 on-field minutes between them, with Bover (95 min) the most. Bover had a goal called back in the home romp over Houston.  It’s hard to see any of them getting meaningful minutes unless players ahead of them are injured.
Grades: Incomplete

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Mike Petke

It’s impossible to argue that the season has been a success with only four victories in seventeen matches.  While the New York coach has had to deal with poor performances from Dax McCarty, Tim Cahill, and on the back line, Petke admits to being baffled by the on-field performances by a squad that looks very similar to the one that won last season’s Supporters’ Shield.  The coach confused Red Bulls fans by starting a first-team lineup in the US Open Cup only to tell his players to simply pop the ball forward to avoid injury in the match.  Give Petke credit for his willingness to play his young charges in the back after 2014 signings Armando and Convey were completely ineffective.

The good news for Petke is that Cahill looks to be in great form, McCarty is near fitness, and the young defenders will only improve with more playing time.  Yes, the fall will be full of terrors with a murderous Concacaf Champions League schedule, but the despite the first half’s malaise, New York is in playoff position and eight points from the top of the weak East.
The grade: B-

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So what do you think, Red Bulls fans? A “B” for Cahill too generous? Steele’s “C+” too harsh? Share your thoughts below!

  • So, Petke gets a B- purely for inserting some young players the past couple of games after his crappy veterans proved incompetent? You are generous to a fault, sir.

  • I’d grade Convey lower – maybe a D – given his pedigree. Agree with Faust that Petke’s getting some grade inflation here. I’d give him a C or C-. Otherwise, just about spot on.

  • Dave from Dix Hills

    Ya Petke graded graciously (the seeing red curve? Hahaha) but the rest is good ……. Even Alexander.

  • Andrew

    Personally think Armando received too low a grade (he deserves a C…) and Steele too high a grade. Not sure there is really much difference between Armando and Sekagya as CB, but Sekagya can be a servicable DM.

  • Like the half season grades. Pretty good assessment and quite fair ratings..maybe have a grade lower for Petke half grade lower and Armando a little harsh.

  • Tim F.

    Henri and Cahill deserve As, Armando deserves a C+ or B-, Miller a B and Kimura a D. Others I am okay with.