Consistency was a major buzz word for the New York Red Bulls this offseason.
It is also the biggest component the team has lacked through 2014.
Despite their efforts at building continuity and establishing stability, the New York Red Bulls continue to be as unpredictable as ever. That is nothing new, says team captain Thierry Henry.
“Four years like this for me,” Henry said after Red Bulls training Thursday afternoon. “I mean, I have been in the league for four years and for four years, consistency hasn’t been something we have dealt with pretty well here. We didn’t deal with it well and it’s just the way it is.”
The Red Bulls have qualified for the playoffs in each of Henry’s three seasons with the club. That is about as consistent as the team has been. Beyond that, New York have been unable to break past the conference semifinal round since the legendary Arsenal striker joined the club in 2010.
Despite having several other years to use as an example, Henry chose the Supporters’ Shield winning 2013 season as a prime exhibit of the team’s problems with consistency.
“Last year we were struggling the same way,” he said. “We went on the last eight games winning six, losing one and drawing one.
“Last year, we won the Supporters’ Shield and the last, lets say, three four games, if we lost them, we could have been out of the playoffs. That tells you how this league is.”
While lamenting their lack of consistency, the French striker also acknowledges another lesson learned since joining MLS; the forgiving nature of the playoff system. Though Henry says every match is important, the reality is that the final stretch run can make or break a team — a fact he readily embraces.
“Somehow the beauty of this league is you can still make the playoffs and that is one of the most important things,” he concedes. “We need to find consistency in the end of the season and make sure then, if we do find it, carry on like this into the playoffs.
“Look at Philadelphia now. They are going on a run. Everybody thought they were dead already. They are not and it is up to us to do that.”
“If we had won the game against DC, we would have been night and day, finding ourselves maybe beating K.C. and D.C., maybe fighting for the first spot. It’s crazy, but we are not,” he continued. “We don’t have to feel too sorry for ourselves but there is an urgency here. Only nine games to go and we have to perform against teams like K.C., D.C., Seattle at home, Toronto and L.A. away. It won’t be easy, but it’s the situation we are in right now and we put ourselves in that situation so we have to deal with it.”
Despite a roster picked apart by international call-ups and a brutal stretch of seven matches in 22 games to come, the captain still believes his team can turn their fortunes for the better — and find that elusive consistency in the process.
“Still nine games to go, 27 points … it’s doable.”