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Red Bulls Update


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The mood is a confident one in Red Bulls camp as they head toward their winner-take-all playoff match against Houston on Sunday.

Despite blowing a lead late in their Western Conference playoff opener, a 1-1 tie last Saturday, the Red Bulls look like a relaxed and confident bunch. They should field the same lineup in game two, though at least one injury could jeopardize that continuity.

Defender Diego Jimenez is nursing a knee injury and is probably the biggest question mark heading into Sunday. If he were unable to go, Red Bulls head coach Juan Carlos Osorio would find himself in a difficult position. He would then either have to slide left back Kevin Goldthwaite into central defense and move Dave Van Den Bergh to right back, or he would have to consider starting Gabriel Cichero.

Yes, I know, that second option sounds about as appealing as punch in the face.

Fear not Red Bulls fans, Osorio has all but said that Cichero has run out of chances. Juan Pietravallo and Jorge Rojas still seem to be bench options but neither is likely to start.

Mike Magee has recovered from the illness that kept him out of game one against Houston, but don’t expect him back in the starting lineup. Osorio stated pretty emphatically on Saturday that Magee wouldn’t have started even if he had been healthy. When asked if the lineup for Sunday will look like the lineup from game one, Osorio stated that there probably wouldn’t be many changes.

Dane Richards is coming up a subpar performance in game one and is actually in jeopardy of being benched in favor of Matthew Mbuta. Mbuta doesn’t quite have Richards’ speed, but he’s a better crosser, has a better shot, works harder defensively and is better in the air. It didn’t help Richards any that he fell asleep on his defensive assignment long enough to let Wade Barrett delivery the key cross on Houston’s late-game equalizer. Look for Richards to hold on to the starting job, but he will get pulled early if he looks as bad as he did last week.

Sinisa Ubiparipovic is ready to go after having to leave Saturday’s match with back pain. He and Luke Sassano formed a solid central midfield partnership against the Dynamo and should start again.

Dave Van den Bergh revealed that he is in the final guaranteed year of his contract and wants to return in 2009 if the Red Bulls will have him. Osorio stated that he would like to have Van Den Bergh back.Van Den Bergh has enjoyed a strong season and has been the club’s most effective midfielder all season long.

What do you think about the team’s chances heading into Sunday’s match? What would you do lineup-wise if Diego Jimenez can’t play?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Looking forward to van Den Bergh interview as well as Dylan Butler story on the practice. I’m surprised that Kandji might not get start over Wolyniec.

  2. p.s. The lone forward up top is shades of Luca Toni, mamma mia, per favore JCO dont do it, as I am still recovering from Donadoni!

  3. That is cold, kpugs, very true but cold, lol! They have this daily thing called practice, that is how they know Woly clicks and reads JPA better than Mac, hence the start. At this point, I will aquiesque sp?! to whomever/ wherever JCO sees fit for starting 11.

  4. No way we should play Van den Bergh in defense, at left back either. The guy is one of our few offensive playmakers, can cross the ball well, can shoot, is strong and has good chemistry with Angel.

    If we need to put someone in at left back, put Rojas in there — that’s the position he’s been playing with the Venezuelan national team, plus we could then use him as a wing back as well. I’m not saying it SHOULD be done, only that it’s an option. Just like it’s an option to play Pietravallo or Mbuta at right back.

  5. Let me also say, that I wouldn’t be upset in the least if Kanji was paired with Angel up top either. I just can totally understand putting Woly there.


  6. Haig,

    Yeah he is. I really don’t what you are talking about. He can’t take guys on one on one, but he can hold the ball with his back to the net. Just this season, when he has barely played, I can think of plenty of times. He is easily our strongest (as in muscular, big) forward. He is a setup guy, and I think he’s pretty good at it.

    That and I like it when he puts his finger on his lip like a mustache. It confuses me, but I like it.


  7. I agree with cb’s lineup (4-1-3-2) if Jiminez can go. Otherwise, I think DVDB goes to LB and Rojas to LM. I’d give Mbuta the start, more for defensive reasons, and then have Richards come in the 2nd half and hopefully burns them with his speed


    Rojas—-Ubi—–Mbuta (Richards)




  8. Trash Woly all you want, but who took a ball that appeared to be dead in the corner, swung it around in to the box for Angel to head it home? Woly.

    I’m not saying Kandji wouldn’t make the play. I’m saying that Woly has his merits, and his experience, and he’s not a bad choice.

    Kandji gives us the option to put on a very dangerous forward on from the bench. We didn’t need it last week, but we may this week.

    As for Gabe… I think if he’s our only option, so be it.

  9. mikemike, I know there areas many opinions about Woly as there are fans of the team, but what you mean by “strong on the ball” is beyond my understanding. I thought it meant “able to hold possession” but that he ain’t.

  10. Honestly, I think it’s hard to say that Angel would play better with Wolyniec than Kandji since Kandji has spent such little time on the field. The kid is young, fast, skilled, aggressive, and not afraid of controlling the ball…and it would obviously help free up Angel more. I think Wolyniec did a decent job last game, but I still wonder what the score line would’ve been had we used Kandji instead. JCO needs to shake up the team a little, and I find that Kandji seems to re-invigorate the team whenever he’s put in.

  11. Ouch. Loosing Jimenez would hurt badly. I’d rather see Mendes in the back 4 than Cichero, but don’t know if he’s healthy enough yet. I’d like to field a 4-1-3-2 with these players, possible subs in parentheses:

    —————–Angel —- Kandji (Woly)

    ———-VDB——-Ubi (Rojas)—–Richards (Mbuta)


    Goldthwaite—Jimenez (Mendes)—Boyens—Leitch

    Hmm, typing that out makes me realize how badly our backs are up against it. Kandji over Woly without doubt: we need agility and firepower up top to free up Angel and to keep Houston more honest on defense. I’m a big Richards fan, but I agree with Ives, Mbuta does bring more to the game. I’d like to see Mbuta get a good 45 mins. of play. I’d stay with Ubi unless he gets hurt again. As for Jimenez, just pray he can play through it with a cortizone shot. Let’s go Red Bulls!

  12. No problem with playing Woly as the set up man for Angel, just don’t expect him to keep up the whole game. A fresh Kandji could make a difference in the second half. A slower ball on grass, rather than turf, minimizes the Richards speed advantage on the wing so there’s little loss with playing Mbuta.

  13. Eugene, I agree with a lot of what you say; the Rojas suggestion is a good one, albeit only b/c of this emergency situation.

    However, I disagree about the lack of playmaker. Sinisa is a playmaker. Granted, not all-star caliber, but still… plus he hustles enough defensively. Pretty much our only option at this point.

    And Woly does a lot of dirty work to create chances for Angel, especially in the air. A real positive last week was that we won a lot of the 50-50 balls all over the field.

  14. I stand by Richards. Watched him play in Game 1 in person and wasn’t surprised that he wasn’t able to contribute more given how much he was covered. That’s just what’s going to happen when the 2nd forward is Woly and there’s no playmaker in the game. Houston covered Van den Bergh, Angel and Richards tightly — which is how Woly managed to slip in just a little. Still we got lucky that Angel managed to put away the few chances the offense could generate without a playmaker and without a significant 2nd forward to draw coverage.

    I don’t think Houston will make the same mistakes again and I think they’ll be stronger at home. I would rather go with Kandji up top partnering Angel, keep Richards at right wing and consider putting Mbuta at right back.

    No way Van den Bergh should play right back… that’s just crazy. With this coach though, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him start our B-team on a whim. It would just be another disappointment in his player selection.

    The way for NY to beat Houston is with speed — hence the need to play Richards, Kandji, perhaps Magee and Mbuta or have the last 2 come off the bench.

    Why couldn’t Rojas play left back with Goldthwaite playing in the middle of defense if Jimenez is injured?

  15. Well Steve, don’t be so sure. A clogged midfield has always been Dynamo’s Achilles heel. That being said, I know that on paper, personnel-wise, NYRB’s midfield may not be up to the task. But I am not just concern-trolling here.

    And when I said 3-5-1, what I really meant was 4-5-1. (Math, I think I remember that class. There was this cute girl that sat next to me, and…………….)

    (You see the problem.)

  16. Martek: thanks for the Houston perspective on this game. I guarantee you that if Osorio does play a 3-5-1 that you guys will destroy RBNY. 🙂

  17. A.S., I have to tell you that down here in Houston, I think my Dynamo would like nothing more than to see you guys in a 3-4-3. There is no way that a match-up like that favors NYRB. So by all means, go right ahead.

    There’s no real surprise that the line-up that frustrates Dynamo most is a 4-5-1. It limits the attack, frustrates the Dynamo midfield and, in forcing my guys forward, leaves them open to be stung by a counterattack. When the game starts on Sunday, I would be shocked and incredibly pleased if I do not see NYRB in a lineup like that.

    Even so, with the compressed field, 30,000+ people and real grass (The National League can eliminate turf, but MLS can not. A crying shame.), even a 3-5-1 might be like trying to put lipstick on a pig.

  18. I really dont trust the Red Bulls to win. Im sorry but ive gotten my hopes up about these teams and they just keep disappointing me. I really dont expect anything.

  19. Frank the Frowner-

    It’s not that Woly is the best we got, it’s that Angel is the best we got. If Angel works better with Woly (which I think he does)then it is a no brainer to play Woly.

    I would like to see Kanji on the field though. If Jimenez is out, what about VDB at left back and Kanji on the wing?


  20. I was shocked when I saw that Mbuta wasn’t on the substitute bench in Game 1. I’m glad to see that he is likely to play on Sunday.

  21. Man, that is great news about Sinisa & Sassano starting again. Hopefully they get the job done again and become the present and future of our midfield.

    I like Dane but seeing Mbuta wouldn’t kill me. I agree with Mikemike about Woly. Kandji may have potential but he hasn’t exactly set the world on fire since joining MLS. You play to your strengths. Ours is Angel, and Woly is the best partner for him of the current lot we have.

  22. JCO should be fired for starting John Wolyniec in the playoffs. How Kandji doesn’t start is simply amazing. Why all the hoopla about signing him when we won’t even play him.

  23. JCO just basically gave up on Cichero when he needs to be supporting his player. Cichero’s problem is nerves more than anything else. Perfect way to solve that problem by benching him when we need the Cichero that we saw when he first joined the team. Time and time again he makes stupid comments in the media. Needs to keep stuff like that to himself. His lineup will speak volumes. We must have forgotten that Jimenez has also made several errors that has cost us games in the past. I’m not sure what he is doing here. Why not Kandji? I don’t get it and he is basically admitting that he signed a bunch of players that all stink for big bucks. Good job!

  24. I like Woly playing. When he is in the box, he rattles the defense because he is pretty strong on the ball. It takes two guys to get him off the ball. That frees up Angel. Freeing up Angel is the purpose of playing two forwards.


  25. I know Dane is fast, and can take players on thereby creating chances, but what else does he do? I didn’t see him do much in Game 1, he seemed much better marked and prepared for, as expected. I think Mbuta in limited time has looked the more complete player and said as much pre game 1. What’s the hold up?? Also, no slight to Woly, but we know what he brings. Since it seems we’re prepping this team for the future, if injury free, why not start Kandji and see what the kid’s got before having to make a decision on whether to keep him or not over the winter?

  26. I would love to see New York finally have a good run in the playoffs, but honestly I don’t like this lineup. I like Angel, Magee and Van den Bergh, but Houston has much more quality from front to back. I think of some of the players New York let go: Eddie Gaven, Ricardo Clark. I’d like to see a youth movement like that again.

  27. It’s going to be huuugee disappointment if Jiminez can’t go. I definitely wouldn’t be too confident with Goldthwaite as center back with DVB dropping to right back. With DVB at right back I think that we lose a massive attacking option. I’m trying to optimistic that RBNY can pull it out, but its tough when it seems like JCO has really underachieved and always puts the team in bad spots because of the line up he starts with or the subs he makes.


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