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Who should the Red Bulls start vs. Houston?


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The New York Red Bulls are two days away from game one of their Western Conference playoff series vs. Houston and head coach Juan Carlos Osorio has some tough decisions to make.

With a handful of players playing terribly in the regular season finale vs. Chicago, Osorio must decide which players he can still trust to deliver in a big game.

Some decisions are easy, like handcuffing defender Gabriel Cichero to the bench, but what about some others? Do you take a chance on Juan Pietravallo considering he seemingly can’t go a game without assaulting somebody. Do you give Jorge Rojas a try considering how invisible he was in some recent games?

With these things in mind, here is a lineup you could see take the field on Saturday vs. Houston:




Van Den Bergh——————————-Richards




There are few safer bets than Mac Kandji and Dane Richards earning starts. Richards absolutely torched Wade Barrett in the 3-0 win against Houston in August. Kandji has looked good in recent games and creates enough problems for opposing defenders to merit a start.

The back-line is easy to select. The above back-line is the same group that shut out the Dynamo in August.

The midfield is a real question. Do you go with Rojas or Magee in a playmaking role? Do you take a chance on Pietravallo, who shut down Dwayne DeRosario the last time these teams met? Do you find a way to get Matthew Mbuta on the field and consider playing him on the left flank, with Van Den Bergh in a central role?

For those of you wondering, here was the Red Bulls lineup in the 3-0 win vs. Houston on Aug. 24:


Van Den Bergh———-Magee————Richards




What lineup would you like to see the Red Bulls use on Saturday? Share your thoughts below.


  1. triple p.s.! yes Jimenez is probably the most solid and least paid of the 4 hispanic transfered players, but the other 3 are not that hideous. Hopefully they will prove their value in the playoffs and continue to adjust to the mls mindset, as well as, the dreaded turf.

  2. oops on my typos and missing the word *countries*! Double p.s. congrats to JPA making the top 40 best Colombian all time player list, for the vote of their 60 yr. aniversary, held by DiMayor club. He will lose to Valderama I bet, but still nice honor!

  3. Dude, *latin american* is not a nationality! I believe we have a Mexican from Central America, 2 Venezuelans and an Argentine, from South American. FYI, Latin America is really more the caribbean and smaller impovrished where they are known for baseball. I think JCO looked world wide, but just didnt have the financial backing to consider Europe, parts of South America, Oceania or Aisa. Geography lesson over. p.s. He should start the most fit 11, and say a prayer!

  4. NYRB’s lineup has 2 important decisions: which center back tandem can handle the Dynamo attack (I don’t think you have one) and who is on the right flank (Richards), because between Clark and Mullan/Mulrooney it’s the only place you’re going to get service from. Houston has shown it’s week to speedsters on the right wing (on turf, at least) and counter attacks, but not much else.

  5. Mbuta should start over Richards. Houston will know that we are looking to recreate that Richards/Barrett matchup, and will be better prepared for it this time. They are a great team b/c they correct their mistakes. Mbuta they’ve never seen, and is a better overall player imo.

  6. Beckster-

    As terrible as NY is, DC is worse. It is truly pathetic for a team to not make it into the playoffs. Nice try though.


  7. To the Red Bulls Fans,

    I’m sorry that your misery has been prolonged due to DC and that when you should be just packing up your Angel jerseys and focusing on Fox Soccer Saturdays, you still are forced to hold out a ray of hope and actually spend time thinking about which starting 11 should take the field and get totally drubbed by Houston (and jmac, you actually think they’ll get 2 goals?).

    Things are much better for us in DC. We are solely focused on (1) who we should hold on to in the expansion draft and (2) how soon the coaching staff will be cleaned out. We have moved on. We will come back stronger, prouder, more passionate and not have to do all those crap international games in March next year!

    The good news is that next week, you all will be able to join us in this better place!

  8. I’m still dispondent after the last game against the Fire. Start with


    ————————–Van den Bergh ————————-





    and if things are going south then consider the following players off the bench:








  9. won’t matter at all, because outside of Angel, the Dynamo are better than NJ Red Bulls at every position. It’s a fact. Dynamo win the series 5 – 2.

  10. Kanji—-Angel——Richards





    After a goal is scored, move VDB to left back and slide Kanji back to left wing.

    (Full disclosure-I stole this linup from Hugo.)


  11. Why is everyone so down on Rojas?

    I think he’d create more opportunities in the middle than Magee or anyone else in that position. When he first got here he was spraying passes all over the place and creating chances for everyone, then picked up an injury and now everyone is asking for him not to be in the lineup.

    Did I miss something?

    For me it’s

    ——Angel ——–Kandji——–






    Bench: Patterson-Sewell, Magee, Leitch, Sassano, Petravallo, Borman

    You put pace on the wings and burn a turf weary Dynamo team down the flanks.

    Let VDB feel feeds over the top to Mac and Angel from the middle or release Mbuta down the left. We try and score early and often then bring on a defender for Mbuta.

    No more putting on pacey players at the end of the match, let’s run around them all night long not just for the end.

    We have to run them ragged and get more than a couple goals to have a chance at moving on.

    On my opinion, of course. But I think we could put 3 or 4 on them with that lineup.

  12. and i think rojas will do well — he’s definitely skilled, and his main weakness seems like an unwilligness to play. being that this is the playoffs, and osorio (hopefully) informing him that this could be his last start as a red bull, he can do well.

    i wouldn’t want to see pietravallo start, but who else can pair up with stammler in the defensive midfield?

  13. does cichero even make the bench? i know the red bulls are short on players, but even if two starting defenders get injured, wouldn’t we rather see vandenbergh and/or sassano move to the backline than cichero come in again, in a playoff game?

    Also, to Adam R.: Goldthwaite is not good enough for the central defense. and leitch has played very well since that game against barcelona. what games are you watching?

  14. Magee absolutely should not play, his hot streak is over and he has proved over 6 seasons he isn’t even remotely useful unless he is “en fuego” as he was earlier this season.

    Other than that, JCO should start whoever will score the most goals, duh. (sarcasm)

  15. They might as well play a 4-4-2 with a midfield of:



    Since I feel like all of the service is probably going to come from DVDB anyways.

    Sub in either Magee, Rojas, or MButa before Pietravallo gets his red card for the match. All three of those players add something different to the match, so subbing one in after evaluating the game makes sense anyways.

  16. boyens, diego, kevin and chris in the back. two holding mids in stammler and Juan or Luke. dave and dane in the flanks. magee or rojas underneath angel. i would also like to see big mac play

  17. Adam R.,

    Agree 100%!

    Forget the CAM position. Our options for that are Ubi, Rojas, and Magee, none of which do I feel good about. That’s not to say that I feel good about Pietravallo either, but I’d rather bolster the line-up with better defenders and let Angel, Kandji, VDB, and Richards make it happen.

  18. I think you go with this.


    Van Den Bergh———-Rojas————-Richards




  19. Have to go with your first choice. We need to attack and score. Pietravallo was in form for that 3-0 game…something he most decidedly is not now!



    Van Den Bergh————-Richards




    Line up #2 if we’re up by 2 goals.

  20. Move Goldthwaite in the middle of the defense with Boyens and pray. Jiminez and Leitch are the fullbacks with instructions to stay at home.

    Dave VDB and Richards on the flanks with Angel and Kandji up top. Stammler and Pietravallo as holding mids. The attack is either Route 1 to the two big forwards, or down either flank.


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