Skip to content

Joel Lindpere vs. Mehdi Ballouchy for Red Bulls? (And insight on practice theory vs. reality)

Apr 12, 2012, 1:55 PM EDT

Montreal Impact v New York Red Bulls Getty Images

I always giggle inside when managers talk about arranging a practice environment so that two hopefuls are competing with the ferocity of wounded badgers for every spot.

It’s fine in theory. You want players mashing the gas pedal at each workout, looking sharp, thinking sharp, being sharp. A “best practices” doctrine for practice would include a hard-edged mano-a-mano at each position, surely helping create the ultimate desired effect.

But when the rubber of the theory meets the reality of the road, this stuff only goes so far. Because one man is usually far more talented than the other – also known as “life in a salary capped universe.”

In L.A. for instance, Adam Cristman can out-work, out-hustle, out-shoot and generally out-perform Robbie Keane over a week of practices for the Los Angeles Galaxy – but we all know who starts come Saturday.

Now and again, the universe does come together, and this best-case scenario works perfectly. It’s happening right now at Red Bull Arena, where Mehdi Ballouchy and Joel Lindpere (pictured) are locked in pitched battle over the left-sided spot for Hans Backe’s high-flying Red Bulls.

Backe says Lindpere has responded perfectly to last week’s benching, putting all his Estonian want-to into this week’s sessions. So we’ll see who gets the assignment Saturday against San Jose.

My take: Backe will go with Ballouchy again – but it won’t last.

No one has ever doubted Ballouchy’s technical ability. That’s why he was the No. 2 overall pick (by Real Salt Lake) back in 2006. But his frustrating inability to impact matches is why the Moroccan-born attacker is already at his third MLS address – having never truly locked down a starting role at any.

His defense is OK at best; the tracking is unreliable and the tackling gets sloppy and foul-prone. More than that, his indecision or lack of aggressive action in the final third marginalizes all that technical passing, shooting and attacking ability.

Lindpere, on the other hand, is chalk full of will and industry. He’s had a bad time so far in 2012, not looking a thing like a force of facility and disruption that fans in Harrison have come to know and love. But a benching will probably shake the shackles, whatever they are. He is what he is – and at 30 years old, he surely hasn’t lost it.

Ballouchy is what he is, too. One rather impressive day against a static and disinterested Columbus Crew was one thing. Going forward? Well, unless Ballouchy has finally found his MLS feet, Lindpere will be back at old left-sided home before you know it.

Latest Posts
  1. Watch Live: Manchester United vs. Inter Milan (Lineups and Discuss)

    Jul 29, 2014, 8:24 PM EDT

    International Champions Cup 2014 - AS Roma v Manchester United Getty Images

    In team news, van Gaal has decided to go with his fabled 3-5-2.

  2. Instagram Transfer Rumors: Radamel Falcao heading to Real Madrid

    Jul 29, 2014, 8:03 PM EDT

    Radamel Falcao AP

    In a startling revelation, AS has revealed that Radamel Falcao has begun following three Real Madrid players on Instagram.

  3. Report: Southampton set to swap Dani Osvaldo for Inter Milan’s Saphir Taidar

    Jul 29, 2014, 7:08 PM EDT

    Norwich City v Southampton - Premier League Getty Images

    Big day for headlines coming out of Southampton but this one looks to be quite promising for Saints fans.

  4. Luis Felipe Scolari hired by Gremio for third stint with Brazilian club

    Jul 29, 2014, 6:30 PM EDT

    Brazil - 2014 FIFA World Cup Training Camp - Day 1 Getty Images

    Twenty-seven years after his first stint with Gremio, Luis Felipe Scolari is returning to the Brazilian side as its new manager.

  5. WATCH: Bojan Krkic scores first goal for Stoke City in 2-1 defeat to Schalke

    Jul 29, 2014, 6:00 PM EDT

    Bojan Krkic AP

    Krkic, who made the $6.7 million move from Barcelona last week, scored a cracker of a first goal for Stoke City.

  6. Report: Carlos Tevez’ stepfather freed by Argentine kidnappers

    Jul 29, 2014, 5:25 PM EDT

    Juventus v Atalanta BC - Serie A Getty Images

    Tevez’s family was then phoned and told to deliver a ransom of $5,000 (40,000 pesos).

  7. Southampton chairman claims club will reinvest $165M in this transfer window

    Jul 29, 2014, 4:53 PM EDT

    Saints have a new Saints have a new

    “Every penny of that will be up for reinvestment as transfer fees and wages,” Krueger said.

  8. Ronaldinho leaves Atletico Mineiro, could be headed to MLS

    Jul 29, 2014, 4:03 PM EDT

    Brazil Atletico Mineiro Ronaldinho AP

    Where, exactly, Ronaldinho’s future ends up is anyone’s guess.

  9. WATCH: Five international, MLS games coming your way on NBC Sports this week

    Jul 29, 2014, 3:22 PM EDT

    PremierLeagueNBC

    ICC and MLS action is in full swing in the USA this week. Watch it all online, here.

  10. New York City FC sign Jacobson from Dallas, linked with Alberto Aquilani

    Jul 29, 2014, 2:57 PM EDT

    Montreal Impact v FC Dallas AP

    Jacobson arrives in the Big Apple from Dallas. Will Aquilani join him?

  11. Morgan Schneiderlin slams Southampton after Spurs move is blocked

    Jul 29, 2014, 2:20 PM EDT

    Southampton v Fulham - Premier League Getty Images

    Now Schneiderlin wants out as Saints’ incredible exodus continues to take a turn for the worst.

  12. Barcelona reveal record income levels of $711 million

    Jul 29, 2014, 1:58 PM EDT

    Manchester City v Barcelona - UEFA Champions League Round of 16 Getty Images

    Despite not winning any silverware last season, Barcelona were big winners off the pitch.

  13. Report: Carlos Tevez’s father kidnapped, held for ransom

    Jul 29, 2014, 1:21 PM EDT

    Aston Villa v Manchester City - Premier League Getty Images

    Tevez’s father, Juan Carlos Cabral, is said to have been kidnapped in Buenos Aires and held for ransom.

  14. Southampton insist Rodriguez, Schneiderlin are not for sale

    Jul 29, 2014, 1:15 PM EDT

    350x AP

    Southampton duo are going nowhere, despite being linked with Tottenham switch.

  15. Liverpool complete $17 million signing of Belgian striker Divock Origi

    Jul 29, 2014, 12:37 PM EDT

    Source: Liverpool FC Source: Liverpool FC

    Liverpool sign talented Belgian teenager, will loan him back to Lille this season.

  16. Despite calling African players “banana eaters”, Tavecchio still set to lead Italian FA

    Jul 29, 2014, 12:11 PM EDT

    Italy Federation Racism AP

    Even after calling African players “banana eaters” this man is set lead the Italian FA.

  17. Enner Valencia granted work permit, completes $20 million West Ham move

    Jul 29, 2014, 11:10 AM EDT

    Source: West Ham United Source: West Ham United

    Valencia finally signs on, as Hammers splash the cash in search of goals.

  18. Miami’s MLS future continues to hinge on downtown stadium deal

    Jul 29, 2014, 10:35 AM EDT

    Miami's Arquietectonica and 360 Architecture Miami's Arquietectonica and 360 Architecture

    Garber: “MLS will not expand to Miami unless we have a downtown site for the stadium.”