Practice is over for the Red Bulls and coach Juan Carlos Osorio (as well as captain Claudio Reyna) shared quite a bit of insight into the team and what he (they) have seen so far in preseason.
Here is a rundown of some of the tidbits:
Dave Van Den Bergh will see time in central midfield in Saturday’s exhibition. Osorio sees Van Den Bergh’s passing skills benefiting the team in the middle of the field. That said, Van Den Bergh still isn’t guaranteed to be on the team when the season starts (Osorio didn’t say that but the writing is on the wall.)
Osorio sees Mike Magee as a player who could fill that attacking midfielder role behind the forwards in the 3-4-1-2 the team has used in pre-season. Osorio and Claudio Reyna singled out Magee for praise, stating that he has looked sharp in pre-season.
Osorio does believe Claudio Reyna can perform well in the slot behind the forwards, but did say that he is on the hunt for an attacking midfielder who will play that role, which would allow Reyna to play deeper. Osorio also made a point to state that Reyna has been unfairly criticized for what he brings to the team and he feels Reyna can have a major impact in 2008.
two young players who are drawing considerable praise are rookies Danleigh Borman and Luke Sassano. Borman could see considerable minutes on the left flank, while Sassano is being pegged as someone who could start matches in defensive midfield. In other words, folks wondering how the club could get rid of Dema Kovalenko should know that Sassano has been impressive in camp, giving the team Stammler, Reyna and Sassano as quality options.
Free agent Scott Palguta also drew praise from Reyna for being an effective left-footed defender who could be competing for playing time at left back.
Perhaps the most interesting thing Osorio said was that he team’s defenders are a stronger group than he expected it to be and he feels the team’s returning defenders can play much better than they did in 2007. Osorio made a point to say that he wasn’t criticize the team’s previous coach (Bruce Arena) but the sense I get is that Osorio is baffled at how a group including Carlos Mendes, Jeff Parke, Hunter Freeman, Kevin Goldthwaite and Chris Leitch struggled as much as it did last season. I have always thought that Jeff Parke and Carlos Mendes are better than they get credit for. Both could thrive under Osorio.
The New York Red Bulls and Red Bull Salzburg WILL play a scrimmage match on Thursday afternoon. Unfortunately for SBI readers, I’m due to return to the United States that morning. There is still an outside chance the match is played on Wednesday. Here’s hoping it is changed.
That’s all for now. I will try to post some more on today’s practice developments but I need to get settled and need to get the internet situation at my hotel sorted out.
Stay tuned for more information as it becomes available, and definitely tune in on Saturday morning for my running commentary from the New York Red Bulls’ exhibition match against the Red Bulls Salzburg reserves.
Share your thoughts on any of the above developments below.