Are the New York Red Bulls on track to win their first MLS Cup?

The New York Red Bulls have made their best start to a Major League Soccer campaign in eight years, since they went unbeaten through the first five games in the 2007 season, and things are certainly looking promising.

Few would have thought anyone would be saying the words ‘Red Bulls’ and ‘promising’ after four weeks of the 2015 season as an offseason filled with negativity filled even the most upbeat supporter with pessimism.

Transition

The Red Bulls are not afraid to change things. The club have had more head coaches in the league’s 20 year history than any other team and radical change is something Red Bulls fans have become accustomed to.

But when club legend and head coach Mike Petke was fired at the turn of the year, supporters felt let down. They reacted badly to the decision made by sporting director Ali Curtis to fire Petke, just a month after star man Thierry Henry had hung up his boots.

Tim Cahill then left the club in February and new head coach Jesse Marsch didn’t really have the fans on his side as they opened the new season away at Sporting Kansas City at the beginning of March.

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But this team looks good. Real good. Henry is irreplaceable, there is no doubt about that, but his departure has forced the Red Bulls to improve as a team. They are playing as a collective group, rather than a group of individuals and Marsch feels that this team could be heading for success.

“This team keeps pushing,” he said after he watched his side beat the Columbus Crew 2-1 on Saturday. “It keeps coming together and I really like these guys. There’s something happening here and I think we all can feel it.

“I feel like we’re only going to get better so it’s been a good start but we’ve still got a long way to go.”

Optimism

Marsh’s comments were said with excitement. He knows he has a great squad at his disposal. Bradley Wright-Phillips equalled the single-season goalscoring record with 27 last year but he looks to be a more complete player under Marsch and has already started the new year with two goals and two assists in three games.

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It took Wright-Phillips eight games to get his second goal of the 2014 season on his way to winning the Golden Boot last time out and so he is already looking set for a better campaign so long as he can stay consistent.

His fellow Englishman, Lloyd Sam has looked in fine form so far and he has stepped up his game in the absence of Henry early on, while Sacha Kljestan looks like he was one of the signings of the offseason.

Red Bulls bosses clearly felt Marsch was the man to take this team forward and they certainly look to be going in the right direction at this early stage.

They have picked up seven points from their opening three games, drawing at Sporting KC before back-to-back wins against DC United and the Columbus Crew – all three are top sides who will expect to be in the MLS Playoffs once again this season, so they are impressive results for Jesse Marsch’s side.

New York Red Bulls after three games in 2015:

Table: New York Red Bulls after three games in 2015

Table: New York Red Bulls after three games in 2015

They have gone unbeaten through three games, picking up an average of 2.33 points-per-game – a total only bettered by FC Dallas so far this season.

That’s already a major improvement from the start they made a year ago as it took the Red Bulls seven games to pick up their first win in 2014.

New York Red Bulls after three games in 2014:

Table: New York Red Bulls after three games in 2014

Table: New York Red Bulls after three games in 2014

Mike Petke watched his side concede six goals in their opening three games against the Vancouver Whitecaps, Chicago Fire and Colorado Rapids last season. Vancouver made the playoffs last year but Colorado and Chicago were two of the worst teams, making their results against better teams this time around all the more impressive.

Success

The New York Red Bulls are a team that should be winning trophies and achieving success year by year. Things looked to be going perfectly when they lifted the 2013 MLS Supporters’ Shield but back-to-back playoff failures have cast further shadows over the club. Shadows that need to be removed.

The emergence of New York City FC has just reinforced the fact that the Red Bulls must deliver. They have to try and dominate the Big Apple as well as the rest of Major League Soccer and the start they have made will certainly fill supporters with early season optimism.

They were just one game away from the title game last season as the New England Revolution beat them in the Eastern Conference Championship game. Early improvements this season could lead to greater success come December.

It is early but the Red Bulls look like a side ready to win their first-ever MLS Cup in 2015.

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MLS 2015 Season Preview: New York Red Bulls

As the 2015 season draws closer, we’ll have a new MLS 2015 Season Preview up everyday. Today we take a look at what the New York Red Bulls will be looking to achieve this season…

The New York Red Bulls endured a slightly frustrating campaign last season in the Eastern Conference but their playoff form was good and they must take positives into the new season after only narrowly missing out on a place in the MLS Cup final. It would appear difficult for fans to take positives into the new season at this point however after an offseason of major changes at the club. This could be a transitional season for the Red Bulls as Mike Petke has gone, a new manager is in and several key players have departed, none more important to the side than Thierry Henry, who hung up his boots at the end of the 2014 campaign.

Last season’s finish: Eastern Conference position: 4th – P34 – W13 – D10 – L11

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What needs to change this year?

The Red Bulls need to find a killer instinct in games, something which they lacked on occasions last season and they must concede fewer goals. To have had top scorer, Bradley Wright-Phillips in their side and only end the campaign with a +5 goal difference is proof of their inability to shut teams out. The Eastern Conference was closely contested last year with just nine points separating the New York Red Bulls in 4th and DC United at the top. With such fine margins and an even more competitive conference this season, they must perform at the highest level for every game.

The Eastern Conference is going to be fiercely competitive this year, with new teams New York City FC and Orlando City looking to raise a few eyebrows, while the New England Revolution look strong candidates to push all the way as they did last campaign. So it is essential that the Red Bulls get off to a strong start this season if they are to have any chance of making the playoffs. That will give supporters confidence, something that is crucial at this stage and new head coach Jesse Marsch will need the fans on his side if his team are to be successful.

Key changes to squad

Ins: Kyle Reynish – Goalkeeper, Andrew Jean-Baptiste – Defender, Damien Perrinelle – Defender, Ronald Zubar – Defender, Sal Zizzo – Midfielder, Leo Stolz – Midfielder, Felipe Martins – Midfielder, Sacha Kljestan – Midfielder, Mike Grella – Forward.

Outs: Thierry Henry – forward,  Tim Cahill – Midfield, Ryan Meara – Goalkeeper, Kosuke Kimura – Defender, Ibrahim Sekagya – Defender, Richard Eckersley – Defender, Jamison Olave – Defender, Ambroise Oyongo – Defender, Bobby Convey – Midfielder, Eric Alexander – Midfielder, Saer Sene – Forward.

Key player: Bradley Wright-Phillips – Forward

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Wright-Phillips is undoubtedly the key man for the Red Bulls and he has even more weight on his shoulders with the key departures of Henry and Cahill. He showed last season what a brilliant goalscorer he is and how he can be the difference in the side. It will be difficult for him to match last seasons total of 27 but he will be determined to try and beat that and continue where he left off. He has signed a Designated Player contract and his performances will be essential to how the Red Bulls get on this season. Without the extra threat of Henry, teams will set up to focus more attention on BWP as they know he will be the man to stop. The Englishman will certainly fight for his team and it will be interesting to see how he gets on after such a brilliant season last time out.

One to watch: Ronald Zubar – Defender

Ronald Zubar could well make the difference at the heart of the Red Bulls defence and with his vast experience of playing in top European competitions, his teammates can learn a lot from him. Zubar has nine Champions League appearances to his name and it will be intriguing to see how his Red Bull career will unfold. At 30 he still has a few years ahead of him and could play a crucial role in helping New York steady the ship.

Predicted finish: Eastern Conference – 8th 

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The fact is that the Red Bulls look to have changed too much, too quickly. It will take time for Jesse Marsch to get his new ideas across to his players and the squad has changed dramatically too. Star striker Wright-Phillips is still there but without the support of Henry it will be a monumental challenge to build on his 27 goals in the regular season last year. A good start is crucial but it looks like the Red Bulls may have to settle for a year of transition before coming back stronger in 2016.

How do you think New York Red Bull will fare in 2015?

Marsch: New York Red Bulls willing to bring in two DPs this summer

The New York Red Bulls are heading into the 2015 MLS season with just one Designated Player but new head coach Jesse Marsch has hinted they won’t end the campaign that way.

Bradley Wright-Phillips signed a new contract that made him a DP after tying the MLS single-season goalscoring record with 27 last year. But Thierry Henry has retired and Tim Cahill has left the club and since joined Chinese side Shanghai Shenhua, leaving the Red Bulls short of stars.

The club have had an offseason full of transition, one of the key changes being Jesse Marsch’s appointment as head coach following the sacking of Mike Petke, and supporters are rightly concerned going into the new season.

The Red Bulls made it to the Eastern Conference final in the MLS Playoffs in 2014 but the chances of replicating that are slim this year. The team needs to replace quality with quality, especially in the case of Henry, but that hasn’t happened.

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Marsch has hinted that the team could bring in at least one more DP in the summer and has revealed that the club are leaving space free on the salary cap so that big names can be acquired in a few months.

“It would be with the thought that ‘What big player can we go out to get to add to this?’ Whether it is designated player – that would probably be the category of player we’re looking for,” Marsch said at the Red Bulls training facility on Friday.

“But you know, how it all plays itself out. But for sure, we’re leaving room for one or two big moves if we feel we need to.”

Marsch did not reveal exactly who the Red Bulls were looking at but revealed the club had players that they were keeping an eye on.

“I would say we have center-backs on the radar, forwards on the radar and a mobile attacking midfielder on the radar for the DP position.”

Sacha Kljestan has been brought in on a non-DP contract and will be an important player this season but there is no doubt that the New York Red Bulls need a new star name.

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Waiting until the summer will increase the chances of signing star players from Europe, as the transfer windows on the other side of the Atlantic open back up in July, and clubs would only be willing to part company with a key player as long as they can replace them.

Alternatively, the Red Bulls could approach to sign players that have less than six months remaining on their current deals at any time now and they would then join the club in the summer.

A pre-contract agreement can be signed with players aged 23 or older who have less than six months remaining on their contract.

Do the New York Red Bulls need to bring in at least one more DP to be a force in MLS in 2015?

Will the New York Red Bulls miss Tim Cahill following departure?

Tim Cahill has officially joined Chinese club Shanghai Shenhua after terminating his contract with the New York Red Bulls by mutual agreement on Monday.

The Australian forward, who won the Asian Cup with the Socceroos on Saturday, spent two-and-a-half years in Major League Soccer with the Red Bulls but he is the latest name to head out of the club in what has been an offseason of major transition.

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Mike Petke has been fired and Jesse Marsch is now in charge of the team, while Thierry Henry hung up his boots at the end of the 2014 season and Cahill is one of eleven players to have left New York since the end of the last campaign.

The 35-year-old moved to MLS from Everton as a Designated Player in 2012 and he played a key role in helping the game in America develop and grow.

Cahill scored 16 goals with 11 assists in 72 total appearances for the Red Bulls, a record that means he contributed to a goal every 204 minutes, which is better than his contributions at former clubs Millwall and Everton.

Tim Cahill Minutes per Contribution Stats Table

Tim Cahill minutes-per-contribution statistics by club (Stats via transfermarkt.co.uk)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Australian enjoyed his best season of his career in 2013 with the Red Bulls as he led the team for goals with 11 while also adding four assists in 27 regular season appearances in a campaign that saw him named an MLS All-Star and New York Red Bulls MVP.

However last season was a very different story as Cahill only managed to find the net three times in 27 regular season and playoff games.

It could be a case of age catching up with him, or perhaps his involvement in the World Cup affected his campaign more than it should of in 2014, but he is moving on at the right time for both himself and the club.

His departure frees up another Designated Player slot for the Red Bulls, and they can now plan to bring in two more DP’s should they wish to.

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Cahill left his mark on the New York Red Bulls as an organisation and helped the club to its first ever MLS Supporters’ Shield in 2013, an achievement that Cahill ranks as one of the best in his career.

“I’ve enjoyed every moment of my time at the Red Bulls and leave with great memories,” Cahill said after confirming his departure.

“I joined with the ambition of helping to grow and positively affect soccer in the US, and I feel immensely proud of what we achieved as a team during my time in the MLS. Winning the Supporters’ Shield was, without doubt, one of the best moments I have experienced in my career, and I am now looking forward to my next chapter.”

Will the New York Red Bulls miss Tim Cahill in 2015?

Sacha Kljestan fills huge hole for New York Red Bulls following transfer

The New York Red Bulls have been busy in the last couple of days and yesterday they confirmed that they have acquired US Men’s National Team midfielder Sacha Kljestan from RSC Anderlecht, using the top spot in the MLS allocation order.

New York moved to the top of the allocation rankings on Tuesday following a trade with the Montreal Impact that also saw Ambroise Oyongo and Eric Alexander leave and Felipe Martins move to the Big Apple.

They wasted no time in using their number spot by signing Kljestan and the 29-year-old is looking forward to return to MLS with the Red Bulls.

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“I am excited for this new challenge and thrilled to be joining such an important club,” he wrote on Twitter about his move to the Red Bulls. “I can’t wait to get started and help build something that RBNY fans will proud of.”

Kljestan played with the Red Bulls new head coach Jesse Marsch at Chivas USA from 2006-2009 so the two will be familiar with each other and the USMNT midfielder arrives at the perfect time.

Red Bulls fans have been frustrated for much of the offseason, with star man Thierry Henry retiring, Mike Petke being fired and not many new names coming in.

That has changed in the last few days and Kljestan is a huge signing, not only for the quality he brings but the leadership as well, and he will slot in the centre of midfield alongside Dax McCarty in 2015.

With Alexander gone, the Red Bulls needed to bring in another midfield enforcer, and they’ve gone and acquired the perfect player for what they need, and most importantly Kljestan has not filled a Designated Player slot.

Felipe Martins will play in front of Kljestan and he will look to provide the creative spark for now-Designated Player Bradley Wright-Phillips.

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Wright-Phillips and Tim Cahill are the Red Bulls’ two DP’s at this point but Cahill’s future is very much in doubt and it is unlikely that he will be returning to New York in 2015, with reports suggesting a move to the UAE is on.

If the Australian does depart in the next couple of weeks, the Red Bulls will have two Designated Player slots available and supporters will want to see those filled in order to compete with clubs in what is set to be a fiercely competitive Eastern Conference this season.

Kljestan comes at a time when New York needed him and he ticks several boxes in terms of what the team needed, but there is still work to be done with regard to strengthening the squad.

How good a signing was Sacha Kljestan for the New York Red Bulls?

Tim Cahill set to leave New York Red Bulls for UAE switch – report

Tim Cahill could have played his last game for the New York Red Bulls as the MLS club have reached a “tentative agreement” with United Arab Emirates Club Al Wahda for the transfer of the Australian star, according to UAE newspaper The National.

Cahill is currently playing in the Asian Cup with Australia and is in great form, having scored three times at the tournament already, and he will take on the United Arab Emirates in the semi-finals on Tuesday night.

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The 35-year-old forward joined New York Red Bulls from Everton in 2012 and only has one year left on his current contract.

There have been rumours that he will be leaving MLS since the end of the 2014 campaign, and that could very well happen as soon as the Asian Cup ends on January 31.

The report in The National indicates that a deal has been agreed but the formalities of any agreement will need to be sorted out after the Asian Cup.

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“Cahill’s performance at the Asian Cup and the World Cup last year has really caught the eye of the Wahda top management and we can say a tentative deal is in place,” the report says.

“There is nothing formal yet though and we will have to wait until the end of the Asian Cup before a formal deal is signed.”

Cahill has made 72 appearances for the Red Bulls, scoring 16 goals with 11 assists as a Designated Player in New York, but could be the second huge name to leave the club this offseason, after Thierry Henry retired.

Bradley Wright-Phillips is the only other Designated Played on the team now, and if Cahill leaves too the Red Bulls will need to make some moves to strengthen ahead of the 2015 campaign.

Should the New York Red Bulls sell Tim Cahill? Would a move to the UAE be good for Cahill?

Tim Cahill suggests he could leave New York for a return to Premier League

New York Red Bulls midfielder Tim Cahill has hinted that he may be set for a return to the Premier League after two-and-a-half seasons in Major League Soccer.

The Australian has been linked with a move away from the Red Bulls for a while now as the club are rebuilding the team heading into 2015, and the 35-year-old thinks he can play for another five years at the top levels of the game.

“The future’s bright,” Cahill told the Australian Associated Press.

“I’ve got another year left on my New York Red Bulls contract. The main feeling for me is every time I’m at a club, I like to be there for a long time.

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“To be totally honest, I could have gone back to the Premier League on loan after the World Cup and I decided to stay with Red Bulls for the remainder of the season and I still have options to go back to the Premier League if it’s the right one for me.”

Cahill spent nine years with Everton in the Premier League and was a fan favourite at Goodison Park so a return could be on the cards.

But the midfielder admits that wherever he plays, he needs to see regular game time to ensure that he remains a key part of the Australian National Team.

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“I’ve gone to the MLS because that allows me to play internationally,” Cahill added.

“The next decision that I make will still allow me to play internationally. I average 30 or 40 games every season since I was 17 years old and nothing’s changed.

“Physically, I feel great. Mentally, I’m always switched on. I’m ready to go.”

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Cahill occupies a designated player slot at the Red Bulls and his departure would mean the club will need to replace him, as well as Thierry Henry in time for the new season in March if he does depart.

He could still remain in New York but with suggestions that a return to the Premier League is on the cards, it will be intriguing to see what the Australian midfield star decides to do.

“When you put everything into one, the decision I make will be a methodical one, like I’ve always made it. It will take a month or so but I think people will be quietly impressed with what I’m trying to do.”

Should Tim Cahill remain in New York with the Red Bulls or would a return to the Premier League be a better move?

How will New York Red Bulls cope with life after Thierry Henry?

Losing a player of Thierry Henry‘s quality and presence is never an ideal situation, but it’s the one that New York Red Bulls are now currently faced with.

Henry scored 10 goals in 2014, but perhaps more importantly, he made 15 assists over the course of the regular season and the MLS playoffs combined.

A large proportion of the credit for the Red Bulls success last season will have been given to Bradley Wright-Phillips for his scintillating goalscoring form, but it will be interesting to see how he manages now that his key creator is no longer around.

Thierry Henry played the role of provider for nine of the goals that Wright-Phillips scored last season which accounts for just under one third of his overall combined total of 31.

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Upon equalling the record for most goals in one MLS regular season, Bradley Wright-Phillips has since been rewarded with a designated player contract.

And with no clarification over Tim Cahill’s future as yet, there may still be two DP slots available should he decide to move on to pastures new.

It will then be down to whether or not the Red Bulls choose to fill the spaces, but it certainly allows them the option to bring in world-class talent in an attempt to replace the legendary Frenchman.

The assumption would be that New York are currently on the hunt for an attacking player to partner BWP in 2015 as Henry has played such a crucial role for the last four years, so that void will certainly need to be filled.

Can New York Red Bulls cope with life after Thierry Henry?

New York Red Bulls must seriously consider move for Ronaldinho

With Brazilian legend Ronaldinho now a free-agent, a move to Major League Soccer is a real possibility after years of speculation.

The 34-year-old left Brazilian side Atletico Mineiro on Monday and is set to decide where his next move will be by next week with offers from all over the globe.

New York Red Bulls have been linked with a move and they should seriously consider making one as the long-term future’s of Tim Cahill and Thierry Henry remain up in the air.

Cahill could go home to play in Australia at the end of the current season while Henry is believed to be considering retirement, as Red Bulls head of global soccer Gerard Houllier suggested on Saturday.

Ronaldinho would bring in a world-class playmaker and a huge name to help the team on and off the field, something increasingly important with New York City FC set to enter the league with a bang next year.

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A problem would be that the Ballon d’Or winner does not speak English, and this would hinder his marketing potential for the franchise, though his footballing ability cannot be questioned.

Red Bulls officials are believed to have met with Ronaldinho’s representatives during the World Cup in Brazil but did not speak about a potential move.

They may now be back in contact though with the former Barcelona and AC Milan star available as a free-agent.

His age would not be a problem with his agent and brother Roberto Assis claiming that he could play “until he’s 42”.

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Henry joined as a 32-year-old and is still tearing defence’s apart at 36, so Ronaldinho’s arrival would undoubtedly make the team better as an attacking unit.

His arrival could even convince Henry to stay for another season as the pair played together at Barcelona in the 2007-08 season.

Should New York Red Bulls go all out for Ronaldinho?

5 Takeaways from Toronto FC’s important victory against New York Red Bulls

Toronto FC got a crucial 2-0 win against the New York Red Bulls on Saturday night, as the Red Bulls fall to their second consecutive loss. It is the first time Toronto have beaten New York in 11 attempts. Here are our takeaways from a key game in Major League Soccer.

 

1. Jermain Defoe is still as deadly as ever!

The England international showed yet again why he is still a world-class finisher with his goal at BMO field, as he let the ball run across his body before smashing it into the top corner.

The ex-Spurs striker will be pleased with his performance, and many will once again question his exclusion from England’s World Cup squad.

One thing that’s for sure is that Toronto will benefit from England’s loss.

 

2. Gilberto is a waste of a designated player.

The Brazilian currently fills one of the three designated player slots the Reds are allowed, and it is bewildering as to why, as he hasn’t scored a goal this season.

In his seven appearances this season he has only one assist to his name, and with Luke Moore opening his account on his MLS debut for Toronto last night, time is ticking for Gilberto.

More pressing matters for Toronto are the rumoured returns to MLS for Brek Shea and DaMarcus Beasley. Surely, they would want to challenge other franchises for those signatures, with the ambition they have shown over the past six months?

 

3. Toronto has more depth than it seems.

With Michael Bradley absent with the USMNT, the Reds went with on-loan Blackburn right-back, Bradley Orr, in the middle of the park.

What was more surprising than his position on the pitch was that he played a perfect pass to set-up Defoe’s goal, quickly calming any Toronto supporters nerves about how they would cope without Bradley.

And of course they have recently acquired Collen Warner from Montreal Impact, who also plays in the centre of midfield.

Deputising for the flu-ridden Julio Cesar, Joe Bendik started in goal once again, and kept a clean sheet against a strike force, which has produced twelve goals this season.

 

4. Bradley Wright-Phillips is human.

Coming off his second hat trick of the season against Chicago Fire, BWP couldn’t carry his form into last night.

The Red Bulls failed time after time to break down Toronto, and it was an hour before BWP had a decent chance.

And It was a sitter! But the former Charlton forward put it straight over the bar from six-yards.

Just a minor blip in his season? We shall see as the weeks progress.

 

5. New York doesn’t like the road.

The Red Bulls have only won one game away from home this season. Just let that sink in!

A team that boasts talents such as Bradley Wright-Phillips, Thierry Henry, Tim Cahill and Lloyd Sam has won only one game away all season.

On paper they are arguably the best team in the league, but struggle to use their dominance in possession to its full advantage.

Last night marked the second time they have failed to score away from home this campaign, and although they usually seem to have no problem scoring, they are desperate for a solid center-half. Rio Ferdinand anybody?

The philosophy is perfect: dominate possession and use your width in attack to stretch the opposition in order to create holes centrally. However, with Cahill missing through the World Cup, they have lost their playmaker, and catalyst in the final third.

Tough times appear to be ahead for New York if they don’t bring in a decent defender.