In anticipation of this Saturday's huge match against the New York Red Bulls, I was able to do a Q&A with SB Nation's Once A Metro blogger Dan Ferris about the Rafa Marquez incident, Dwayne De Rosario, and which Red Bull players he thinks have had the biggest impact on New York this season. You can also see my answers to three of Dan's questions by visiting the SB Nation Red Bulls blog by clicking here.
My sincere thanks to Dan for taking the time to talk with me.
1. I'm sure this issue has been beaten to death in New York, and you're probably tired of talking about it, but just to fill in some Sporting Kansas City fans who haven't been following the Red Bulls as much, what were your thoughts on the whole Rafa Marquez incident, and what do you think New York should or will do with him at the end of the season?
Dan Ferris- Rafa Marquez said some things after a 3-1 home defeat to Real Salt Lake that probably should have been kept private within the team. Nothing he said wasn’t true, but after he served a one game team imposed suspension he put in a lackluster performance against Toronto and general consensus was that Rafa would be on his way out. A strong performance against the LA Galaxy may have put the anti-Rafa sentiment on hold, however, and club management has stood by him as a member of the squad for the foreseeable future.
If the match against the Galaxy was a one-time performance, the Red Bulls will ideally find a team in Europe or Mexico that can swallow his high salary. New York didn’t spend any money on a transfer fee to acquire him, he was simply released by Barcelona. But as evidenced by David Beckham and Thierry Henry, MLS Designated Players can take some time to adjust and be effective in the new league beyond jersey sales and boosting attendance numbers.
2. Do you think there are any regrets about New York parting ways with Dwayne De Rosario? He's been incredible in his time at D.C. United, but things never quite worked out in New York. What do you think the reasons were?
Dan Ferris- No regrets on New York parting ways with De Rosario – only that New York gave up so much to get him in the first place. De Rosario wants Designated Player money when his contract is up at the end of the season and he even went on an illegitimate trial overseas to make his point while still in Toronto (not surprising after his "check-signing" goal celebration last year). With Henry and Marquez as two of the three DPs, DeRo was unlikely to be the third. When the team realized that their differences were irreconcilable, they immediately shipped him to DC for long-time target Dax McCarty, who by the way was acquired by DC in the offseason from Portland shortly after the expansion draft for the low price of Rodney Wallace.
De Rosario has thrived in DC because the offense runs through him. In New York, he was always going to be supplementary to Henry who has admitted is not the same attacking player he once was when he was beating defenders with his speed for ninety minutes each match. Instead, Henry switches between a target forward and dropping deeper into the midfield to create plays and distribute (more on that below).
3. If you had to name three Red Bull players that you feel have been the most vital to the team this year, who would they be, and why?
Once A Metro
Thierry Henry – While he isn’t the same player he was even just two years ago during World Cup qualifying, Henry is one of if not the most technically skilled and gifted player in Major League Soccer. I know, David Beckham can bend a ball or something like that, but watching Henry when he’s in the zone is special. Unfortunately, that player too often only shows up for spurts during the game as he adjusts to being positioned a little deeper into the midfield as a playmaker instead of exclusively up top. His fourteen goals put him in a tie for top goal scorer in MLS, and a number of his tallies have come to pull the Red Bulls level in the dying moments of a game and salvage some kind of result.
Luke Rodgers – I don't think I'd even seen general sentiment about a player change for the better as quickly as it did around Luke Rodgers. He's become a fan favorite with his fiery play and nose for goal after initial skepticism and uncertainty when Backe brought him into the team from a lower English league. If there is one bad thing about Rodgers it's that he's been missing for a good chunk of the season as he's fought off a nagging foot injury. When Rodgers starts, New York is 8-3-7. Otherwise the Red Bulls are an unimpressive 1-4-9.