Some Stats and New York’s Epic Problem
Real Salt Lake continued their winning ways in their fantastic two-win start to the 2012 season. Only three other MLS teams have been able to keep pace with Real and won both of their first games. These teams, Houston, Kansas City, and Vancouver all carry six points. It can be noted that all three of those teams have yet to concede a goal. However, RSL leads the four team pack in goals scored with five.
The game against NYRB was an interesting one indeed. It wasn’t the blowout that several fans wanted, but the scoreline doesn’t quite reflect the game. Just look at the stats. New York had just as many shots on target as Real, they had 8 corner kicks opposed our 5, we committed 11 fouls on them and they only committed 8 against us. According to the statistics, New York seemed to be lurking in front of the RSL net. They had 24 open play crosses, 13 more than Real was able to create. The Red Bulls also put together 483 passes compared to the 411 that Real Salt Lake was able to thread. Both team’s passing accuracy was the same, 83%, but NY enjoyed the slight majority of the possession with 53.7%.
With those figures and the star power New York holds in their front line, you’d think they’d be able to put a few more goals away. Why don’t they?
New York’s been a hard team to figure out over the last couple years. Believe it or not their stats are usually quite similar to the numbers above. I have come to one possible conclusion about NYRB’s status as a team: they simply struggle to find an identity. The Red Bulls have the market, money, and star power of the LA Galaxy, but they don’t play LA’s style. They try to play Real Salt Lake style. New York’s envy for Real’s swagger has become especially apparent in recent interviews with Thierry Henry who expressed that New York are not at RSL’s level and need to play more like them.
But should they? It seems to me that the Galaxy’s style of sign-big-name-players-and-give-them-the-ball has actually worked out. New York does the sign-big-name-players-part but seems to focus on trying to keep possession and play beautiful soccer. It seems very apparent to me that this isn’t going to work out. Jason Kries has made it evident that he doesn’t have the best players. He has the RIGHT players. If NY wants to play good looking soccer, they need the RIGHT players. Those aren’t the big name ones that sell tickets. These RIGHT players are the Fabian Espindolas, Paulos, Grabavoys, Schulers, Beltrans that other clubs generally blow off. Grabavoy for example was cut by San Jose after the conclusion of their first season as an expansion team after re-entering the league. San Jose came dead last. They were one of the worst clubs in MLS history. They didn’t think Ned Grabavoy was good enough for their team. Now you can see him starting for Real Salt Lake as one of the key workhorses on the team. Ned is one of those RIGHT players. If New York wants to succeed they need to figure out their own style and sign players based of it.