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Van den Bergh is Red Bulls Mr. Consistency


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On the roller coaster that has been the New York Red Bulls most memorable season ever, there has been one constant – Dave van den Bergh. The Dutch midfielder is second on the team with eight goals, including the game-winning strike in the 28th minute to lift the Red Bulls to a 1-0 win against Real Salt Lake in the Western Conference Final Saturday night.

“He has been magnificent for us,” Red Bulls coach Juan Carlos Osorio said.

While the Red Bulls have battled all kinds of adversity – from star forward Jozy Altidore being sold to Villarreal, designated player Claudio Reyna retiring to the performance-enhancing drug suspensions of starters Jon Conway and Jeff Parke – van den Bergh never wavered.

Seemingly every cross from the left side is a dangerous one and when the club was without Altidore, Reyna and Juan Pablo Angel, who battled injuries in the first half of the season, van den Bergh was the team’s best player.

“He’s just got a great sense of when there’s going to be a chance,” John Wolyniec said. “For a flank player he just has an incredible instinct of where the ball is going to end up. When it’s there and he’s there he does a great job of finishing it.”

That was the case Saturday when van den Bergh scored the biggest goal in club history. He also started the play with a ball up the left side to Wolyniec. RSL defender Jamison Olave missed a slide tackle, allowing Wolyniec to run free inside the 18-yard box.

He crossed along the six, where Juan Pablo Angel missed a sliding attempt as Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando got a touch on the ball. Van den Bergh completed his 60-yard run by tapping the ball in at the far post.

“It was ugly, it was lucky, but for this franchise we’re going to have to take it any way it comes,” van den Bergh said. “We won this title and next year around this time nobody will know how the game went. They’ll just see the result – New York Red Bulls won the Western Conference.”

Van den Bergh also scored the first goal in Rio Tinto Stadium history, a 31st-minute strike in a 1-1 draw on Oct. 9. That was his first game back from sports hernia surgery.

“I knew Dave was going to score,” Dane Richards said. “Every game he’s played against Real Salt Lake he’s scored this season. He just capitalized on a nice goal.”

Few gave the Red Bulls a shot following a 5-2 drubbing by the Chicago Fire in their final regular-season game. But the Red Bulls got some help from the Columbus Crew, which knocked off D.C. United on the final day of the regular season to book New York’s postseason ticket.

“It was just a second chance and we all realized it was one,” van den Bergh said. “We took it and took full advantage of it and for a lot of these guys this is the first final that they’re in. It’s just a great atmosphere in the locker room and around the team. We just figured it takes 11 guys working very hard to get a result. That’s what we do.”

And now van den Bergh and the Red Bulls are improbable MLS Cup finalists. Is this a team of destiny? We’ll see on Sunday, but van den Bergh said there is certainly something magical happening.

“March Madness has Cinderellas right? I’ll tell you what, MLS Cup has one, too,” van den Bergh said. “The last team to quality, but we’re right there.”


  1. vdb equals workhorse of the year, beautiful player, tireless effort. Yes JPA is accoustomed to great service, but he finishes off all the garbage too! They should all feel great today, and very proud.

  2. How the hell does Angel get MVP consideration and Van den Bergh gets zilch? I am not a Red Bulls fan, but have always been impressed by Van den Bergh’s effort, contribution, and leadership, while Angel is underwhelming and virtually nonexistant in some games. However, Dave is always in the heat of the action, especially in Saturday’s game. Angel did NOTHING for most of the game, and hastily wasted opportunities at the end of the game that would have put it away, or at least allowed the clock to tick had he taken it into the corner. He never helped defending, and just hung around midfield, drifting lackadazically (anyone know how to spell that word?). Van den Bergh’s performance was a stark contrast. He hustled, got up with the attack and somehow found ways to get back on the counter. The same can be said for every Red Bulls game I watched this season, save for the DC United game at Giants stadium when Angel had two goals. But even in that game, his goals were more the fault of United defenders than a compliment on his talent and efforts; Van den Bergh had a stellar goal and did most of the dirty work.

    Ok, I apologize for the rant, especially to all you Angel lovers out there. I appreciate Angel’s talent and goal-scoring ability, but feel he is overrated because he can only produce when he is fed perfect service. And the only times he does get this perfect service is mostly due to Dave Van den Bergh. So, it strikes me as unfortunate and biased when guys like Angel and Blanco get MVP nominations, but guys like Van den Bergh are not even mentioned as candidates, and guys like Javy Morales are overlooked for the most part. I would put in an argument for Jaime Moreno too, as I was very impressed with his efforts in statistics, but I feel like the MVP should only go to a playoff team, and Jaime was injured for a few weeks at the end of the year.

  3. Good to see Van de Bergh getting some well-deserved credit. He might be the most useful left-sided player in MLS since he has filled in well on defense and offense. I’m the opposite of a RedBull fan but at some point this season I started noticing how important he was even when his team was lousy.

    According to his MLS bio he first played pro w Ajax and then spent several seasons w Rayo Vallecano before going back to Holland and play for Utrecht. Must have been teammates with Kasey Keller.

  4. dvb = team mvp. a lot of people will want to give it to angel but in the beginning of the season angel was cold as he played through an injury. dvb stepped up and kept us competitive even without angels productivity. a huge part of this team this year. i dont know if hes had a bad game this season. deff most consistent player.

  5. Yes Igor! 47 seconds vs the Columbus Crew in the Bulls season opener… A long, loopy shot that bounced over Hesmer’s hand. It would be nice if he could something like that against the Crew on Sunday! 🙂

  6. You’re right Tim, JCO did want to get rid of him, probably for the cap space. Sometimes the best moves are the ones not made.

  7. Ever since he was signed by KC, I have followed him since I knew he was capped twice by the L’Orange and the Dutch team is my favorite European National team. I am happy that my team, NYRB, took him and did not release him as was being discussed at the start of the season. Now, VDB has rewarded Osorio’s faith in him by scoring the biggest goal in NYRB history. I hope NYRB keeps him and JPA for many more years to come. As for being called up again for the Dutch team, realistically speaking, they are probably not even aware of his exploits here in America but it would be great if it happens again. The last time he played for the Dutch was at the same time that Ronald Waterreus manned the goal in a friendly match. If he gets called up again, this would be a feather in the cap for MLS.

  8. Brant,

    According to Wikipedia: “On October 18, 2004 he made his international debut with the Netherlands in a 2-2 draw with Sweden.” It says he has two caps for Holland.

    From somewhere else, I thought that he might have had some experience with the Dutch youth teams, but I can’t find it right now.

  9. Dave has 2 Holland caps.

    I’ve been critical of Osorio, but I’ll give credit where it’s due. One of the few good decisions he made early in the season was that Dave is a core component of this squad.

  10. Van den Bergh has always been one of my favorite MLS players, and I really think he was overlooked for most of this season. He was definitely one of the best players this season, and I hope more players like him come over to MLS in the future.

  11. I’ve wondered if vdB is/was ever in the mix for the Dutch team? Not as a starter in a Euro game, but maybe as a sub in qualification game, or a player in a game in the late stages of group play after they’ve clinched qualification.

  12. yeah, him not winning team MVP is insane, you look at how this team plays with/without him there is no doubt he was the most critical member of the team this season. anyone who voted otherwise must have been watching a different team

  13. With the price they paid KC for him, it may be the biggest steal in MLS history. I believe all NY gave up was a Supplemental Draft Pick which basically means they gave up nothing.

    I really wish we had kept him in KC or atleast got a good value for him.

  14. What makes this story even better is that van den Bergh was one of the first names mentioned this pre-season about starters that Juan Carlos Osorio was going to ship off because he didn’t meet the mold that the coach was looking for.

    To Dave’s credit, he has just let his game do the talking and proved his worth. Dave has acted professionally throughout this season and has a good/querky sense of humor. Way to go Dave!!!


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