Feb 27, 2013, 9:02 AM EDT
Each day from now until the beginning of Major League Soccer’s 18th season, we will preview one Eastern Conference team and one from the West. First kick is March 2.
No. 3 in the East is the New York Red Bulls:
Significant additions and subtractions: In a trade with Real Salt Lake the Red Bulls got a reliable, hard-working scorer in Fabian Espindola and one of the league’s elite center backs in Jamison Olave. The club also added Brazilian veteran Juninho to boost the attack. (There are lots of Brazilian Juninhos out there; this is the Red Bulls’ Juninho.)
The most newsworthy change is Rafa Marquez’s departure; if anything goes wrong this year, we can no longer blame the former Mexican international. (And that was typically the first stop along the blame train.)
Also moving out of Red Bull Arena is Sebastian Le Toux, who is back in the venue of his best success, Philadelphia. And Kenny Cooper was traded to Dallas, taking his team-leading 18 goals with him. The team also purged a few mid- to high-salaried veterans, like Jan Gunnar Solli and Teemu Tainio.
Strengths: No MLS roster looks more promising; back to front the Red Bulls have talent and options. Guiding them is now Mike Petke’s job, and the players seem to have connected with the longtime club figure – Petke was a former Red Bulls player and then assistant coach – in a way they never did with Hans Backe, who was fired last fall after three seasons in charge.
Petke hopes to get the best of his talented collection of attackers through a loosely structured attack, where interchange is encouraged in what he says will sometimes look like a 4-4-2, other times a 4-1-3-2, a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-3-3.
Goalkeeper Ryan Meara, moving toward a possible Rookie of the Year honor last year before a late summer injury, and Luis Robles give Petke two terrific choices in goal. And speaking of choices, Heath Pearce is in the league’s top half of center backs, but probably top five in left backs. That kind of flexibility can only help as Petke builds the match-day lineups.
The central midfield will involve some ordering of Dax McCarty (rewarded with a new contract for that fantastic 2012 campaign), longtime EPL veteran Tim Cahill, Juninho and Thierry Henry.
Pressure points: The club has never won a major trophy, a fairly noticeable black eye for the team representing Major League Soccer’s largest media market. As “pressure points” go, that’s a pretty substantial one, and an ongoing issue around Red Bull Arena. No one is more aware than Petke, a fan favorite in his playing days and the club’s all-time leader in appearance with 169 in league matches.
The trick with Olave is keeping him healthy enough that he justifies that relatively high salary for an MLS center back; Olave has averaged about 24 starts over the last five years, and he never quite looked the same after a hamstring injury last summer.
Henry has plenty of talent around him to provide some relief here and there, and he’ll certainly need it. (Plus, Henry doesn’t like playing on artificial turf.)
Difference maker: Henry turns 36 in August, but he still looks up for the job. The former French international (and league’s highest-paid player) supplied 15 goals and 12 assists last year, which are league MVP-worthy numbers. Plus, he never seemed to click between the white lines with Cooper, so the on-field chemistry with fellow attackers will presumably improve in 2013.
We can be 100 percent sure that Henry can still manufacture some very special moments; some of his goals over the last two years have been absolute beauties.
Potential breakout player: The club has three starting-quality left backs in Pearce, Roy Miller and Conor Lade. So we’ll see how much Lade can get on the field. Sooner or later, the talented, hard-working left back will get the chance to show why a player like Henry spent so much time talking him up last year.
Bottom line: There is a lot of pressure on Petke, 37, to find his feet quickly in this, his first professional head coaching assignment. Assuming he keeps the Red Bulls bus properly in lane, there is zero reason to believe they cannot challenge for the Eastern Conference crown. The roster is well-constructed throughout and blessed with difference makers at the top, even if a couple of them tend to be on the brittle side.
May 24, 2015, 11:16 AM EDT
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May 24, 2015, 11:14 AM EDT
It was a trio for Theo, as Arsenal’s speedy Englishman helped the Gunners to a big halftime lead over West Bromwich Albion.
May 24, 2015, 11:10 AM EDT
Arsenal has a big lead in its season finale, and this goal is a big reason why.
May 24, 2015, 11:00 AM EDT
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May 24, 2015, 9:52 AM EDT
Garry Monk and Swansea City have secured a record Premier League points total for the club, and will look to add to it today.
May 24, 2015, 9:42 AM EDT
Nigel Pearson’s Foxes will suit up Jamie Vardy, recently called up to England, and Leonardo Ulloa. QPR’s 18-year-old striker Reece Grego-Cox will start alongside Charlie Austin.
May 24, 2015, 9:35 AM EDT
Can the Villans prepare for the FA Cup in style or will Burnley sign off with a win? Watch live online.
May 24, 2015, 9:34 AM EDT
Jack Wilshere makes his 100th Premier League appearance as Alexis Sanchez starts at the head of the attack looking to lock up third position.
May 24, 2015, 9:33 AM EDT
Romelu Lukaku, of course, spearheads the Toffees attack, while DeAndre Yedlin is on the bench for Spurs.
May 24, 2015, 9:24 AM EDT
Papiss Cisse and Emmanuel Riviere will lead Newcastle’s charge. Former NUFC manager Sam Allardyce will use ex-NUFC captain Kevin Nolan.
May 24, 2015, 9:23 AM EDT
Gerrard makes his final appearance for the Reds. Will he get a winning finish? Watch live online.
May 24, 2015, 9:15 AM EDT
Can the Saints win to seal a spot in the top six? Watch live online, here.
May 24, 2015, 9:15 AM EDT
Didier Drogba and Petr Cech both make what is likely their final appearances for Chelsea as the Blues look forward to lifting the championship trophy.
May 24, 2015, 9:08 AM EDT
The Tigers must win to have a chance of survival. Can they pull off the “great escape” at the KC? Watch live, here.
May 24, 2015, 8:45 AM EDT
How and where to watch all 10 games on the final day of the 2014-15 Premier League season.
May 24, 2015, 8:31 AM EDT
The Ivorian international will say farewell to Stamford Bridge for the second time in his career looking to extend his career elsewhere.
May 24, 2015, 8:03 AM EDT
The Colombian striker will not be back at Old Trafford next season as Louis van Gaal will not trigger the buy option on his expensive loan from Monaco. However, he could look to stay in the Premier League next year.
May 24, 2015, 7:33 AM EDT
The US international has become a Premier League regular and it looks to stay that way for the next three years.
May 24, 2015, 12:29 AM EDT
In case you’d forgotten since last Saturday night, none of us know anything about MLS.
May 24, 2015, 12:10 AM EDT
To grind out a point in Sporting KC’s current predicament is impressive, but the Sounders were very, very poor.
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