By JAMES CLARK
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Red Bulls Peaking As Season Winds Down
By JAMES CLARK
East Rutherford, New Jersey -- The lads and I spent a beautiful Sunday with 12,000-plus fellow fans at Giants Stadium and saw the resurgent New York Red Bulls impose themselves during a comprehensive 3-nil win over the Houston Dynamo in a match that was broadcast nationally on Spanish-language network Telefutura. Give some credit to Red Bulls coach Juan Carlos Osorio -- the Colombian has made all the right moves in the "post-Claudio Reyna" era. The signings of Pietravallo, Jimenez and Cichero have added a palpable Hispanic flair to the side, and with Juan Pablo Angel back to his deadly goalscoring form, New York is not a team that any MLS club would want to face in a two-leg playoff. Mike Magee and the blazing-fast Dane Richards also found the scoresheet Sunday, and Rutgers grad Jon Conway shut things down in goal.
The one good aspect about the Bulls' indifferent early season form is that they may now face a weaker Western Conference side in the playoffs, or even this Houston side. Allowing for the fact that Ching and Holden did not start for the Dynamo on Sunday, the Bulls have to be confident in the fact that they bossed the game. Even when Nate Jaqua came on in the second half for Houston, Jimenez had him in his back pocket.
With three-quarters of the season gone, the Bulls still have a chance to move up the Eastern Conference standings. And you get the feeling that Osorio is saving some of his tactical acumen for the postseason. If Angel stays in form, it might finally be a good time to be a Metro/Red Bulls supporter. Eastern Conference final, here we come!