The New York Red Bulls’ latest win – this time a 4-0 romp on the road against D.C. United last Thursday night - certainly sent a message. The Monday Gaffer takes a look at the Red Bulls and the themes for head coach Hans Backe’s club after their second straight impressive shutout performance.
1. Oh, Henry –Thierry Henry picked up where he left off after the win over San Jose, scoring the first two goals of the match against DC and assisting on the third. After injury concerns last year and again this spring, Henry finally seems pain free and he’s playing liberated, inspired soccer.
“I think it’s a lot with the health issue, definitely,” Backe said. “Because if you have some pain, you can’t be as explosive as you want to and you can’t run the way you want to.”
A healthy and in-form Henry makes the Red Bulls a potentially devastating offense given the stacked midfield Backe has pieced together.
2. Inspired Agudelo – For a second straight game, teenage sensation Juan Agudelo started the game on the bench. The snub from the starting lineup, however, didn’t deter the youngster who, in stoppage time, took a Jan Gunnar Solli cross and coolly flipped the ball up and volleyed his second goal of the season past United goalkeeper Bill Hamid.
It was great effort and awareness from such a young player, who came in as a second half sub with some inspired play. Whether Backe was trying to light a fire under the player is unclear, but the result was most promising for New York.
3. No Style Points – The Red Bulls didn’t hold possession as much as they have the past few games this time around, but they made their chances count. Given the 4-0 score line, it was perhaps surprising that New York had to do as much defending as they did.
“It sounds strange when you win 4-0, but the way [D.C. United] plays, the way they defend, we got them on the breaks, but they played well,” Backe said. “We had trouble today.”
4. Bouna Time? – For Bouna Coundoul, Thursday night was a bit of a statement game. As the hosts pressed for a consolation goal in the final 15 minutes, the Red Bulls goalkeeper was outstanding. Several times, Coundoul made big saves and he was smart in distribution as well.
“They hit the crossbar, they hit the post, and Bouna [Coundoul] had a couple of saves,” Henry said. “But we didn’t concede a goal and that’s what is important.”
Kristian R. Dyer can be followed at twitter.com/KristianRDyer