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Red Bulls practice report

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 The first thing you notice when watching the New York Red Bulls train this week is the speed.

Whether it was Dominic Oduro, Dane Richards, Matt Mbuta or Macoumba Kandji, a minute wouldn't go by without some attacking player turning on the jets to beat a defender. It was just the second day of full pre-season training, but it is clear from the onset that head coach Juan Carlos Osorio plans on using pace to disrupt defenses who won't be able to just sag on Juan Pablo Angel like they have done in the past.

"I think we are going to surprise some people this year," Osorio said of an attack that will be considerably faster than last year. "There were times when we were a bit too unpredictable, but I think we have the players to make things more difficult on teams who try to defend us."

Oduro is expected to play a major role in that shift in philosophy. Acquired from FC Dallas for Dave Van Den Bergh earlier this month, Oduro is the fastest member of the Red Bulls' unofficial track team and his speed could lead to him playing a variety of positions, not just as a second forward alongside Angel. He saw a lot of time on the left wing

Kandji and Mbuta are not new faces, but after being acquired late in the 2008 season, the two former USL players stand to gain a lot from a full pre-season with the team.

Oduro wasn't the only new face in camp on Tuesday.

Rochester Rhino defender Scott Palguta has joined the club for pre-season for the second straight year but things could go very differently this time around. A year ago, Palguta impressed Red Bulls coaches but the Red Bulls balked at paying Rochester a transfer fee for the left back. Palguta signed a new deal with Rochester last season that would actually allow Palguta to make a much easier move to MLS this time around.

Palguta's chances of making the team could hinge on the club's ability to land a left back on the international market. Osorio is currently scouting an international left back the club could sign in the next week or two. Even if Osorio does land his international left back, Palguta still might be able to stick with the Red Bulls as a central defender/fullback.

Among the other invitees in training were former MetroStar forward Diego Serna, who is in camp but appears to be a long shot to make the club, and Colorado Rapids midfielder Nico Colaluca.

Here are some other observations from Tuesday's training session:

Mike Petkewas wearing his old No. 12 after having recently made a deal with midfielder Danleigh Borman to acquire his old number. Petke was also sporting a winter hat (pictured). No, he's not hiding a blond dye job under there.

Midfielder Dane Richardslooked like his usual dangerous self, repeatedly turning and beating rookie free agent Jerry Saintil from Seton Hall.

Midfielder David Roth looked very sharp on the day, delivering quality passes and showing off the speed he used to impress coaches in last year's training camp before being sidelined for the entire season with a knee injury.

Both Oduro and Kandji saw plenty of time on the left flank. Oduro has lightning speed while Kandji is more of a long strider who accelerates well out of turns and has enough tricks to beat his share of defenders. It is extremely early in the season but my prediction is that Osorio will try to get Angel, Richards, Oduro and Kandji on the field at the same time as often as possible.

Rookie Jeremy Hall struggled a bit to impose himself and has the look of a rookie. The talent is there, but he will need some time to adjust, as will most of the other rookies. Fellow rookie Nick Zimmerman showed some bite and some quickness playing as a right back. He could wind up being a late-round draft steal.

Another candidate for the left flank is Jorge Rojas, who wasn't at practice. He is still making his way back from the off-season in Venezuela.

Jon Conwaytook part in training and will do so throughout the preseason. He still has four games left on his suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy, but can train with the team. He has yet to address the media about his suspension.

That's all for now. Feel free to share your thoughts on these observations in the comments section below.


  1. I agree. We probably have the 3 fastest forwards in the league, no worse than 3 of the top 5 for sure.

    I hope the Bulls don’t let left-footed Palguta get away this year. Very big, very talented with some of the best speed around as a defender. Jersey born & raised with 4 years in the pros. If he can do a good job against our forwards, he can defend any team in the league.

  2. If you think playing Oduro on the left wing is a good idea, you clearly haven’t seen him play. His main skill is he is fast, so he is good for kick and run. But his touch, passing and certainly his crossing is dreadful.

  3. If they intend to play Oduro/Kandji on the left, and Richards on the right, you pretty much have to use a 4-4-2 since those guys aren’t going to play enough defense if you go 3 in the back. And no offense, but the backs currently on the roster aren’t exactly covering a ton of ground. Boyens, Goldy, Mendes and Petke are not going to confuse anyone with Usain Bolt, and while Leitch isn’t slow, he’s lost a step or two. So that means three of Stam, Pietro, Ubi and Sassano will be on the bench. Hopefully Stam gets the nod to start. I’m assuming Rojas is the attacking midfielder in a diamond formation in midfield.

  4. Kpugs, Trust me DIEGO can still bring it!!!! He is still dearly beloved by all the AFUSIONADOS in Miami, and many of his MLS records still stand…and yeah I am biased, but so are 25,000 other Miami fans.

  5. “It is extremely early in the season but my prediction is that Osorio will try to get Angel, Richards, Oduro and Kandji on the field at the same time as often as possible.”

    Interesting. Assuming that’s the case, who are the other two midfielders – Rojas and Stammler?

    I guess you could have:




    ——-(Back 4)———


  6. are you sure it’s that our players are fast, and not that the red bulls have the slowest back line in the league? honestly, watching that backline get burned last year was the most frustrating part of the season. . . . until pietravallo became a hack and cichero came in and made the whole team plain terrible.

  7. ———Oduro-Angel




    –Leitch(until we find a new back-Petke-Goldthwaite


    How does this look Ives? Any objections?

  8. Eugene, it’s obvious that Hall has some great physical attributes. He spent a lot of time in the middle of the field. He’s going to need some time to adjust to the speed of play, which is probably why he didn’t show off his pace. To be fair, Oduro and Kandji spent more time up front and on the wings so they were able to show off the wheels more. Also, the team was playing 9v9 so it wasn’t exactly regular game conditions.

    And Bits, the players from last week struggled for the most part. Some guys made plays, but I can’t say anybody stood out. At least not enough for me to take a closer look. Remember, this is just the second day, but it’s also tough going from playing with other rookie free agents to playing with the likes of Juan Pablo Angel, Dane Richards, Petke and Kevin Goldthwaite.

  9. Ives – how did the players from last week do? Santil sounds like he did not do well but what about Brunner, King, Duffy, etc.????? Which players stand a chance?

  10. Ives,

    How is Jeremy Hall’s speed in comparison to Oduro, Richards, Kandji and Mbuta? I thought Hall was supposed to be in the same league in terms of pace and quickness, is that not the case?

    How does Hall stack up technically, tactically and athletically against Roth?

  11. “Mike Petke was wearing his old No. 12 after having recently made a deal with midfielder Danleigh Borman to acquire his old number.”

    Any info as to what the deal was? Like, does Petke have to buy new jerseys for all of Danleigh’s friends and family that have Borman #12 jerseys? 🙂

  12. Nico Colaluca? The Rapids site still has him on their roster, but there would be no way that would be right if he was at Red Bulls practice. Did the Rapids drop him? Do you know anywhere the Rapids preseason roster can be found?

  13. “lol that should have been a write the caption photo

    Posted by: The Special One | January 27, 2009 at 03:03 PM”

    You put your right foot in and you shake it all about.


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