UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J. – If Brandon Barklage has done enough in the past two weeks to continue starting at right back for the New York Red Bulls, he could go up against someone he is quite familiar with in the club’s next game.
The Red Bulls host the Houston Dynamo on Wednesday night (7 pm ET; watch LIVE online) in a match that might see Barklage face off against left midfielder Brad Davis. Barklage is no stranger to fellow St. Louis native Davis, and the New York defender believes that familiarity will help should the two do battle at Red Bull Arena.
“I actually grew up watching the guy, so I know his tendencies,” Barklage told reporters following Monday’s practice. “I watched him in high school and college and just [have to have] the same mentality going into that one as against [David] Beckham.”
Davis, the key cog in the Dynamo attack, still can't shake the label some give him as the "left-footed David Beckham" due to his dead-ball ability and pinpoint accuracy on crosses.
But, Barklage suggests Davis might be even more dangerous than the iconic Englishman.
“Sometimes he even has better service than Beckham does,” said the 25-year-old journeyman.
Typically a central midfielder who began playing right back for New York two weeks ago, Barklage is coming off a strong performance against Beckham and the Galaxy. He snuffed out several crosses to help the Red Bulls earn a 1-0 win in Southern California, and head coach Hans Backe is raving about his efforts.
“I don’t know how many crosses they had for the back post, and he dealt with every one even if he was outnumbered two-v-one, three-v-one for crosses,” said Backe. “That kind of defending in the second half is absolutely top-class.”
As good as he has been defensively at right back, Barklage still has another area of his game that he would like to demonstrate. He’s hoping to get forward and start contributing offensively beginning on Wednesday against Davis and the Dynamo.
“I’d still like to show more of the attacking aspect in my game,” said Barklage. “[That’s] something I want to improve on if I stick to that spot in the coming weeks.”
Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at Franco8813@gmail.com