Saturday, March 29, 2008

Projected Starting Lineups: New York Red Bulls

Projected Starting Lineup:



Van den Bergh--------Stammler--------------Richards



Off the Bench: MF Danleigh Borman, GK Zach Thornton, FW John Wolyniec, FW Oscar Echeverry, DF Chris Leitch, MF Mike Magee, MF Sinisa Ubiparipovic, DF Eric Brunner

The projected lineup might look off, but it's what it would be with everyone healthy. Unfortunately, Osorio isn't going to have that luxury from the get go. Richards is out for the first month of the season, where rookie Danleigh Borman might fill in. Many who saw Borman during the preseason said he was more than capable of providing the energy needed to match a Richards, but there aren't many that can match his pace. Van den Bergh could man the left wing, but lacks the pace to do so all season. If you melded the speed and energy of Richards with Van den Bergh's crossing, you'd have one hell of a dangerous player. The biggest question mark for the Bulls this season will be the health and efficiency of 1st DP Claudio Reyna. He has looked good in the preseason, but all it takes is a knock to the thigh to put him out of commission for a while. If he stays healthy, though, this RBNY could find the consistency they sorely needed last year. Winning three, losing three, winning two, etc. If Reyna goes down however, a once again healthy Mike Magee could really get his chance to shine again. In fact, you could see those two platoon in that attacking mid role. Seth Stammler will play the Kovalenko role, winning balls and distributing. Great thing about Stammler is his versatility. If needed, he can play anywhere in the back.

The defense is led by the duo of Mendes and Parke in the middle. Last year's real deficiency was the outside fullbacks. Goldthwaite came over from Toronto and didn't do much, but there is much pointing to that having changed. Hunter Freeman was oft-injured last year, but showed well in Olympic Qualifying and - yet again - if healthy could make an impression this year. Depth in the back is their strong point - first round SuperDraft pick Eric Brunner will see some time while Chris Leitch is serviceable.

Up at the top, you have easily the most feared duo of strikers in the league. Jozy Altidore and Juan Pablo Angel have worked well together so far and look to build on that this year. Osorio brought in Oscar Echeverry to share time with Jon Wolyniec when Altidore leaves for the Olympics in China. It has yet to be seen whether or not Echeverry can play well beside Angel, but we know that with Wolyniec it's a bit iffy. Expect Angel to hit for 20, at least, and Altidore to grab a good amount.

Jon Conway gets his starting chance in goal this year. Just like Steve Cronin in LA, it's his position to lose. Backup Zach Thornton, although getting up there in age, is perfectly capable of taking it away from him. UPenn grad Danny Cepero - said to have a promising future - has apparently been loaned out to USL Division 2 side Harrisburg City Islanders.

If the Bulls keep scoring and the defense tightens up unlike last season, Osorio could have a Championship team on his hands. You need people to play to their potential though - that means you, Reyna. I can't see it all coming together this year. 2009 is a better bet. The Bulls will start strong and fade late, hanging on for a playoff spot and most likely a first round exit.

Outlook: 4th in the East

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