This was to be the “Year of the Red Bull” in MLS. A star studded lineup including Thierry Henry and Rafa Marquez. One of the best coaches in MLS with Hans Backe. A great ownership group in Red Bull GMBH and the best soccer specific stadium in the US. The team struck fear into the hearts of the league. Some even claimed they were good enough to stay competitive in the EPL if allowed to play there. MLS finally had its “Dream Team”.
The beginning of the season started reasonably well, four wins, one loss and three ties including a highly entertaining draw with Beckham’s LA Galaxy . The team traded for DeRosario, which everyone thought was the final piece of the puzzle. But a funny thing happened on the way to the coronation. Games they were supposed to win turned into ties, games they supposed to draw turned into losses. Now after last night 2-2 draw with Chicago (one of the weaker teams in MLS), the “Dream Team” is a firm 6-6-13. With 9 games remaining, the NY Red Bulls have yet to beat an opponent with a winning record during their match (The only team they have beaten with a winning record this year is Seattle on opening night). As far as the playoffs, they are on the outside looking in
Many excuses have been given for their performance this year. International call ups, injuries, poor head coaching to name a few. The truth is simple, the players have underachieved. They have not shown hustle, grit determination and heart, qualities that define champions. We have seen this story before in New York, the Yankees in the 80’s, Mets in the 90’s and 2000’s, NY Knicks recently etc.
New York sports fans embrace two types of teams, dominating winners (NY Yankees) and teams that play with heart and over achievers (See NY Jets and NY Mets 1969). What they cannot stomach is teams like the 2011 Red Bulls.
And neither can I.