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Cahill’s potential impact on the Red Bulls

Tim cahill (Getty Images)


The New York Red Bulls have long been on the hunt for an attackingmidfielder.The last steady offensive distributor for the team left in2006.His name?Amado Guevara.

Since the Honduran’s departure, many have attempted to fill in the role for New York with little success to show for it.From Jorge Rojas to Dwayne De Rosario, the midfield attacking role became no man’s land and the Red Bulls worked within the confines of a wing heavy offense.

The Red Bulls are hoping Tim Cahill can change that.The dynamic two-way midfielder/striker brings a veteran’s calm and asniper’s accuracy to a trio of forwards that are simply begging for theright lanes to open on attack.The current Red Bull midfielders havetotaled all of 10 assists on a possible 37 goals all season long (12 ifyou count the departed Dane Richards).

While he is not a traditional playmaker, Cahill is capable of providing quality passes. He also brings an aerialthreat to set piece situations; surprising when you take his 5-foot-10 frameinto consideration.His presence in the box will further bolster acomplete dead ball makeover from last year’s inept options.

In essence, Cahill’s acquisition will boost the Red Bull’s offense,  but also force the team to retool their starting eleven from top tobottom, compelling New York to make difficult personnel decisions ontheir final push towards the post-season.

Here is an in-depth look at the Red Bulls' options now that they have Cahill on the way:


This week, New York experimented with a 4-3-3 formation thanks to the addition of striker Sebastian Le Toux.The fleeting foray into total football was abysmal.More often than not, the team lost the fire power of Thierry Henry up top as he back-tracked into a two-way game.Meanwhile, Le Toux and a Kenny Cooper struggled to find the right connection up top.After 20 minutes of  forcing the issue against the Sounders last Sunday, the team revertedback to it’s traditional 4-4-2 form.

In order for a 4-3-3 to work, a team must have a tireless and capabletwo way midfielder playing centrally who is equally adept to breaking afast run and tracking back on defense.Cahill fits the bill.He is acapable transition player who has excelled in that role at the highestlevel’s of competition.

If that is the team’s new direction, there will be all of twomidfield positions left to fill and many options to be had therein.Atfull strength, stalwart veteran Joel Lindpere would likely have to compete with rookie sensation Connor Lade on the left.The right hand side would likely feature Jan Gunnar Solli.The odd man out? This year’s standout midfield general, Dax McCarty (though he could also push for a spot on the right as he has done in year's past).

Here is an idea of what the field may look like:

Henry — Cooper — Le Toux
Lindpere — Cahill — Solli
Pearce — Conde — Holgersson — Barklage

From there, things get even muddier.Teemu Tainio and Rafa Marquezare both expected to be available by months end.Will Tainio be allowedto compete for his old spot?Will Marquez continue at midfield?

Even with a 4-4-2, you run into personnel issues.Clearly, Le Touxdid not join New York to simply be pushed out of a forward spot.IfHenry and Cooper stake claim to the forward lines, Le Toux would likelybe thrown into a battle for minutes with Backe favorite and teamveteran Solli on the right. Backe acknowledged that the move inVancouver may have diminished Le Toux’s productivity in the past, but he would havelittle choice; it would either be that or the bench.

The middle of the pitch would feature Cahill partnering with eitherMcCarty, Tainio or Marquez,while the left side will, once again, featurea battle for minutes between Lindpere and Lade.

Here is an idea of what that would look like:

Henry — Cooper
Lindpere — Cahill — McCarty — Solli
Pearce — Conde — Holgersson — Barklage


Taking this one step further, a fully healthy Red Bulls lineup wouldbeg for the presence of Rafa Marquez on the pitch – whether deserved ornot.His salary demands no less.If that is the case, where would healign himself?If in the midfield, a 4-3-3 can be thrown out thewindow.With his age, lack of pace and a glut of options to filllimited roles, Rafa would be the odd man out, and that clearly can notbe the case for the Red Bulls $5 million dollar man.

That would likely force New York into a 4-4-2 formation.There,Marquez could align himself alongside Cahill, effectively pushing one ofthe Red Bulls most vibrant stars, McCarty, to the bench, or once again, into afight for minutes on the right hand side.

Henry — Cooper
Lindpere — Cahill — Marquez — Solli
Pearce — Conde — Holgersson — Barklage

Of course, all of this could change if Marquez accepts a slot in histraditional centerback role.The move would allow McCarty and Cahill topatrol the middle, leaving a healthy competition on the wings amongst ahandful of deserving players.

If that is the case, the Red Bulls would then have to find the bestformulation between the former Mexican Captain and a stable of capablepartners in Conde, Holgersson, Keel and Ruthven.Holgersson has become asteady commodity this season, earning the captain’s armband in severaloccasions for his efforts in the back.Neverthless, salary demands may make the Swedish back the odd man out in favor of an all-Latinduo in the heart of the defense:

Henry — Cooper
Lindpere — Cahill — McCarty — Solli
Pearce — Conde — Marquez — Barklage

In that scenario, the possibility also exists that Holgersson canchallenge on the right wing back position; an area he manned whenhelping lead Helsingborgs IF to a championship last season.The movewould have him pushing stand-out Brandon Barklage on the right while a Heath Pearce / Roy Miller duel decides the fate of the left hand side.


As has been the case all season long, it will be on the lap of HansBacke to find the winning combination to propel the team forward.Unlike recent history, it won’t be injuries forcing the manager’s hand,but a glut of options that will push Backe into making some verydifficult decisions.

Throughout the year, many players have stepped up when called upon.McCarty, Barklage, Lade, Ryan Meara and a plethora of bench options have been instrumental in catapulting New York to first place in the East.

Cahill’s addition will ultimately mean less time for either theteam’s emerging roleplayers or even some of their top veteran stars.

Two weeks ago, Red Bulls General Manager Erik Soler made the following statement; “My job is very simple; to get players in.I will leave Hans Backe all those decisions on how to play and who to play and all that.”

“I am a lucky guy,” he added with a playful smirk

He is right – and it is an enviable dilemma to have.


  1. Dear Phily fans , You singing no cups to us is just soo stupid . as meaningless cups we do own are still cups , which you don’t have none …zero ,nada ….plus our team couple of youth championships too, so there are cups in our trophy case ….do you even have a throphy case in Phily ?

  2. I highly, highly doubt that Lade and McCarty are coming out of the lineup right now, the way they’re playing.

    I expect to see something like this for now:


  3. This is probably the lineup I would go with as well. It could also be hard for teams to deal with, because they could easily morph into a 4-2-1-3 or a 4-1-2-3 with Le Toux pushing up and Lindpere playing alonside Cahill for added offense, or alonside McCarty for added defense.

    that fluidity would really throw some opponents for a loop

  4. I like this. I also think it provides good interchangeable pieces. For example: if NY plays a weaker team, slot Lindpere in for Taino. Conversely, if your opponenet is a little toughter, go with tainio in midfield/Holgersson for Marquez.

    then you still have some punch off the bench with Lade, Miller, and Ballouchy (ok, maybe not him)


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