UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J. – If it happens, it won’t be for lack of talent.
That’s the verdict from RBNY sporting director/general manager Erik Soler when asked if the Red Bulls could miss out on a title for the 17th-straight season.
Speaking to reporters following Friday morning’s training session, Soler said he believes the Red Bulls are one of the more talented teams in MLS and one that should achieve its goal of winning something this year – and “something” means either the MLS Cup or Supporters’ Shield, or preferably both.
“We have all the players we need to win the championship. There’s no doubt about it,” said Soler. “In my opinion, if you look at all the teams and try to figure out the top four teams roster-wise, we’re in the top four.
“I think it’s more about trying to get the stability. Now we have all the players back. We can have the same people playing more number of games and I think that will help. I know that [head coach Hans Backe] is taking this really, really serious.”
Soler did touch on the Red Bulls’ recent defensive miscues and lapses (they’ve surrendered at least two goals in three of their last four regular season matches), and he said it is something that needs correcting.
“If we continue to let a team like Portland – nothing wrong with Portland, but obviously they had scored four away goals before they came to our arena, I don’t think we can win,” Soler said, referencing his side’s 3-2 come-from-behind win over the lowly Timbers last weekend. “I think we need to sort that out. You can’t expect us to score three goals every game to win a game, and especially if you go away for the playoffs, you can’t let two, three goals in. It’s too hard.”
Even though he acknowledged the issues at hand, Soler stated he still believes that Backe will help rectify these issues and help New York in their quest for a league title, starting with this Sunday’s match against Eastern Conference leaders Sporting Kansas City (9 pm ET; ESPN 2, Live Chat on MLSsoccer.com).
“Hans is the expert on exactly these things but last season we had a situation on set pieces; we were terrible,” said Soler. “This year, we’ve been excellent. We don’t let in goals on set piece, very, very few, [and] we score goals on set piece, so we took care of that piece of the game and sorted it out.
“The way I look at it, our biggest problem has been able to be compact enough. You saw it against Portland. I don’t know if there were four or five times where they were one-by-one with our goalkeeper. That cannot happen. That’s not good. We’ll sort that out. I’m totally confident that the players and Hans, when we go from tomorrow and on, will look different.”
Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at Franco8813@gmail.com.