There is no denying New York Red Bulls have some fantastic talent in their roster. Theirry Henry and Rafa Marquez, these are players that have won trophies and have been a part of great teams. Last season they even boasted one of the league’s top marksmen, Juan Pablo Angel.
Angel has since left for L.A. Galaxy and reports are suggesting Bayern Munich striker Miroslav Klose could be brought in to fill the gap. If the deal does go ahead it would take the Red Bulls to nine recognized first team strikers. Now fans of the club may say in a long MLS season you need a squad not just a first eleven but at what point do you draw the line?
Realistically you can play at most three strikers at any one time, and while some players like Englishman Luke Rodgers can deputize on the wing, it’s not his natural position. It’s very much crow barring him into the team.
The other new Englishman John Rooney famous for not being Wayne has been added to the squad of 32. When you consider EPL squads are set at 25 players and even some of those players struggle to get games you don’t envy the task Swede Hans Backe has to keep all of those players happy.
What makes this situation worse is the fact a lot of these players are new signings. They’ll take time to bed into a new league and won’t have made the move to New York with the intention of sitting on the bench.
It’s comparable to Manchester City and their attack heavy squad of recent times. When you have the likes of Tevez, Dzeko, Jo, Balotelli and then youngster Alex Nimley, you simply can’t accommodate them all. Then you have five other strikers all out on loan at different clubs, that’s essentially two attacking line rosters.
The one thing that should give Backe some hope is the youth in the squad. Twelve of his 32 man roster is 22 or under meaning that element of his team may be more patient when it comes to first team opportunities. This however is not guaranteed, players fresh out of college are just as likely wanting to establish themselves in the league and further any international dreams. That can’t be done from the bench.
It was by no means a bad season for New York last year. Finishing 3rd overall is nothing to be ashamed of despite the heavy investment in acquiring Rafa Marquez and Thierry Henry. The former was deemed to have had a good debut season in the league, however his former Barca team-mate Henry could easily come in for criticism.
Two goals from 11 starts wasn’t quite the return expected from Henry and if he begins this season in similar poor goal scoring form Backe will have a big decision to make. Thierry Henry was signed as a marquee player for the club much like David Beckham he was seen as a figurehead for the team who would also sell shirts. The problem he has unlike Beckham is that strikers are judged on goals.
If for example Luke Rodgers begins scoring does Backe drop Henry like a hot stone? Common sense would say yes, the club is bigger than any player and those in charge will be expecting the Red Bulls to win the MLS Cup this season. Either way Hans Backe’s task is an unenviable one, and if he manages to succeed it will without doubt be down to his fantastic man management and good squad rotation.