Rapids vs. Red Bulls - Three Questions with Once A Metro

HARRISON, NJ - MAY 25: Conor Casey #9 of the Colorado Rapids plays the ball against Roy Miller #7 of the New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena on May 25, 2011 in Harrison, New Jersey. The game ended in a 2-2 draw. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Colorado faces the New York Red Bulls tomorrow and after the bad news on Conor Casey, let's take our mind off of the injury reports with a couple of questions traded with our NYRB blog, Once A Metro. My questions to them are below and you can check out my answers to their Rapids-centric questions here at OaM.

1. I know next to nothing about the newest Red Bull, goalkeeper Frank Rost. Tell us a little about the new guy manning the posts for NY.

He's 6'4" but agile unlike former New York keeper Greg Sutton.  He's a proven shot stopper having started hundreds of matches for Bundesliga clubs like Hamburg, Schalke, and Werder Bremen, and brings consistency and poise onto the field unlike now backup keeper Bouna Coundoul.  Rost also played internationally for Germany a handful of times.  He was signed as the Red Bulls' third and final designated player, and conflicting comments made by New York suggest that Rost could be with the team just for this season or they could extend his designated player contract next year.      

Rost is still a bit of an unknown to Red Bull fans having barely trained with the team before getting the nod in his first start against Chivas USA on Saturday night.  Since Chivas couldn't put a single shot on goal, Rost did not have a chance to show off his shot stopping ability (and in an ideal world, he won't have to do that often).  What we did see (and hear after the match) was he already has helped to improve communication, organization, and confidence in the Red Bulls defense. Coincidentally or not, left back Roy Miller enjoyed his best game this season, getting forward and joining the attack regularly.  And Rost made sure right back Jan Gunnar Solli knew to play an easy pass back to him next time after he made an awkward, errant clearance.    

Center back Tim Ream summed up his position on the new player wearing sky blue in the back well after the match:  "He's a veteran goalkeeper, he talks a lot, and he communicates well."  If the Red Bulls wanted to make a run at the MLS Cup this season, they had to stop giving away silly goals, particularly off of set pieces.  Rost should be an incredible upgrade in that department. 

2. The Red Bulls have had a flurry of activity in the transfer windows the last few years, with the two trades involving De Rosario, picking up Luke Rodgers, the Ballouchy for Kandji trade et al. Out of everything the Red Bulls have done since the start of 2010 what's the best and worst moves that they've made for the team?

So many moves by the Red Bulls have raised eyebrows and drawn ire with supporters.  And often, it seems that the most criticized moves are the moves the club is not making, failing to bring in anything resembling depth and leaving what appear to be high-paid, dead weight players on the roster. 

That said, the worst move the Red Bulls have made since Hans Backe and Erik Soler have taken over the running of the club is how they bungled acquiring Dwayne de Rosario only to trade him for a player that was excessively available at a much lower price in the offseason.  Dallas left Dax McCarty unprotected in the expansion draft and Portland took him for the sole purpose of shopping him around the league, ultimately trading him to DC for second-year defender Rodney Wallace and a fourth round draft pick.  In comparison, the Red Bulls gave up Tony Tchani, Danleigh Borman, and a first round draft pick to acquire de Rosario from Toronto. 

True, the Red Bulls thought they wanted to use a 4-4-2 diamond formation moving forward, and to do that successfully you need a creative, attacking midfielder.  But midway through the season they change course to a flat 4-4-2 which often plays like a 4-2-3-1, and Dwayne de Rosario, who always wanted designated player money but probably would not have gotten it and left the club anyway, did not fit into that plan.  Even worse, there was a miscommunication about DeRo's intention to play in the Gold Cup for Canada, which left New York woefully thin without five key players during the tournament.     

The best move(s) the club has made was bringing in Joel Lindpere, Teemu Tainio, and Jan Gunnar Solli for the combined cost of a designated player against the salary cap.  While guys like Henry, Marquez, Ream, and Agudelo have much higher name recognition (and jersey sales), the trio of European talent is a major reason that the Red Bulls are near the top of the Eastern Conference this season and haven't completely imploded.    

3: How will missing Rafa Marquez change the tactics and lineup for the Red Bulls on Wednesday?

The Red Bulls have been missing Rafa since May 21st against the Houston Dynamo (not that we're counting).  First absent to play for Mexico in the Gold Cup, if you watched the final between the U.S. and Mexico you saw Marquez subbed off due to injury early in the first half.  We're still waiting for him to return and had hoped Wednesday night against Colorado would be his first match back. It's now looking like Backe wants to give him a couple days more in training and insert him back into the starting eleven at home against Dallas this weekend.

Rafa's absence has the biggest impact on the Red Bulls' possess and attack style.  Carlos Mendes has filled in admirably defensively next to Tim Ream (they were New York's starting center backs for much of 2010 and have plenty of experience playing next to each other), but lacks Marquez's vision and ability to play long passes over the top to the speedy Dane Richards and Luke Rodgers.  Tactically, it would have been interesting to see if Manager Hans Backe would have move Marquez up to defensive center midfield for a match that the club was missing Teemu Tainio due to yellow card accumulation.  

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