Back With a BangBy: Eric Giacometti | March 26th, 2012
Crisis?¬† What crisis?¬† The Red Bulls are world-beaters.¬† We‚Äôre gonna win MLS Cup!¬† No one can stop us!¬† ‚Ä¶At least that‚Äôs what the highly emotional RBNY fan base seems to be telling me.¬† After an 0-2 start, we needed to blow the team up and fire Backe, now it seems all is well in the land of the energy drink.¬† I believe there‚Äôs an old adage that goes a little something to the tune of You‚Äôre never as bad as you think when you‚Äôre losing, and you‚Äôre never as good as you think when you‚Äôre winning. Maybe, but it‚Äôs hard not to get swept up in a feel-good thrashing of the cRapids in NY‚Äôs home opener.¬† There were lots of factors pointing in the Red Bulls‚Äô favor, but atop that list stands the one and only: Rafa Marquez.
Go ahead, I dare you to tell me that he sucks after gifting Omar Cummings with that goal.¬† Yes, it was a bad mental error and Colorado made it count, but there‚Äôs no way you can judge his 90-minute performance off of one miscue.¬† Everything about his play on Sunday indicated that this is a different Rafa.¬† He took hard fouls and popped right back up, he set up his teammates and controlled the midfield, he even looked to have a good chemistry with his midfield partner, Dax McCarty.¬† Along with the insertion of Wilman Conde, it‚Äôs fairly easy to see how much potential this team has at full strength.¬† A fully committed and healthy Rafa will go a long way in determining the success of RBNY in the 2012 campaign; you can write that down in pen.¬† If we get more performances like this (albeit against a Colorado team missing it‚Äôs two best midfielders), there‚Äôs no reason New York can‚Äôt be among the MLS elite all season long.
Speaking of elite, how ‚Äėbout that Thierry Henry guy?¬† He‚Äôs pretty good, I guess.¬† Two goals and an assist weren‚Äôt good enough to earn him Man of the Match honors (losing out to Ryan Meara [who deserved to get his first MLS clean sheet, but I digress]), but his play did earn him Player of the Week plaudits.¬† It was vintage Henry on Sunday.¬† After picking off a poor back pass and calmly slotting it home for his first, he set up Kenny Cooper, finally getting his first start, with a beautiful pass into space.¬† Cooper, who had a brace of his own, touched it around Drew Moor and drove it past a sprawling Matt Pickens to put NY up 2-0 inside seven minutes.
Although Colorado picked it up for the remainder of the first half, they were no match for New York.¬† Henry‚Äôs second goal, a GOTW nominee was ‚Äútop class.‚ÄĚ¬† Conde placed a perfect pass over the Colorado defense off a dead ball kick, and Henry opened his hips and slammed it far post.¬† 3-0 NY.¬† The Rapids got one back due to the aforementioned Rafa gaffe, but Cooper picked up his second in the dying minutes of the match after a Roy Miller pass across the goal mouth found the back of the net.
Cooper has been an offensive force that not many people saw coming when they acquired him in the offseason, which brings me to my next, and quite controversial, question.¬† Are the Red Bulls better off with Cooper pairing with Henry than they are with Luke Rodgers?¬† I know, I know.¬† Almost sounds crazy to ask.¬† It‚Äôs only been a few games, so I‚Äôm not ready to crown Cooper as our next great striker just yet, but you‚Äôve gotta be happy with what he‚Äôs shown so far.¬† I‚Äôm curious as to everyone‚Äôs thoughts (poll below).
All in all, it feels good to get three points, and even better to be back at Red Bull Arena.¬† Nothing like some home cooking to get you on track.¬† And with a nice stretch of, what‚Äôs the word, softer(?) opposition, look for the Red Bulls to go on a little run here.¬† Were you impressed with the win?¬† Are the Red Bulls back?¬† Lemme know down below or on Facebook or Twitter.