Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Bruce Almighty: The Arena Rules

OK, here's how it works. When the Red Bull win, the players had the right approach, stuck to the plan, did what they were told and collectively, the coaches, organization and players won the game. But when The Red Bull lose, as they did on Sunday, the players sucked. That's the World According to Bruce Arena. It's how it worked with the US National Team and it's how it works now that he's back in Major League Soccer. Get used it.

Sayeth Bruce Almighty:

"I think we got outplayed in the first half just in terms of the effort aspect of the game. In the second half I thought our performance on the technical side was horrible."
Notice the clever use of the royal "we" and "our." King Bruce himself wasn't outplayed, of course. Bruce The Infallible's performance on the technical side wasn't horrible either. His Kingdom for a Horse! (YouTube) Or at least Subjects/Players willing to follow Bruce Almighty to the Promised the Land!

A funny thing happened on the way to the MLS Cup, however, and though lowly serfs ourselves (YouTube), allow us to humbly ask a few questions regarding Sunday's 1-ni loss to the Colorado Rapids:

1) Did the players bench Jozy Altidore, the team's top goalscorer?

2) Did the players choose defensive-minded, offensively-limited Seth Stammler as the replacement for injured Claudio Reyna?

3) Speaking of Reyna, did the players use a DP slot (and over a million bucks) on a 33-year-old who missed 58 of 120 league matches over the course of the past three full seasons with his previous club?

4) Did the players see Pablo Mastreoni man-marking Juan Pablo Angel and Greg Vanney giving similar treatment to Dane Richards (since the Rapids had no worries about defending Stammler or Mendes or Parke or Regan or Kovalenko) and make no adjustments whatsoever until late in the second half?

5) Did the players sign off on the brilliant Red Bull marketing plan, which apparently consists of no marketing and results in a cavernous, depressing environment to watch and play professional soccer?

Here's The World According to Red Bull Rising:

(At the Risk of Blasphemy and Exile to Elba)

Arena had a choice to make upon the arrival of Juan Pablo Angel. He could either be positive and field an attacking 4-4-2 side with Dema-Mathis in the middle, Van den Bergh-Richards on the flanks and both Angel and Jozy up top. Or he could be negative and field a defensive 4-5-1 lineup, featuring his most dynamic player on the bench. He chose the negative option and got a negative result. Duh.

Johan Cruyff put it best:

"It’s simple. It doesn’t matter how many goals they score, as long as you score one more. Then you win."
On Sunday, Arena rejected this Cruyffian Logic, tried to concede less goals than the Rapids, lost the game and blamed his players. Just like he tried to concede less goals than the Czech Republic last summer, lost the game and blamed his players. Unless Bruce Almighty comes down from the mountain and joins us commoners starving for positive, entertaining, creative, offensive soccer, the Red Bull win column will become as barren a wasteland as Giants Stadium was on Sunday.


Anonymous said...

OUCH--- tell us how you really feel

riles said...

Too much?