Cahill’s potential impact on the Red Bulls

Tim cahill (Getty Images)


The New York Red Bulls have long been on the hunt for an attackingmidfielder.The last steady offensive distributor for the team left in2006.His name?Amado Guevara.

Since the Honduran’s departure, many have attempted to fill in the role for New York with little success to show for it.From Jorge Rojas to Dwayne De Rosario, the midfield attacking role became no man’s land and the Red Bulls worked within the confines of a wing heavy offense.

The Red Bulls are hoping Tim Cahill can change that.The dynamic two-way midfielder/striker brings a veteran’s calm and asniper’s accuracy to a trio of forwards that are simply begging for theright lanes to open on attack.The current Red Bull midfielders havetotaled all of 10 assists on a possible 37 goals all season long (12 ifyou count the departed Dane Richards).

While he is not a traditional playmaker, Cahill is capable of providing quality passes. He also brings an aerialthreat to set piece situations; surprising when you take his 5-foot-10 frameinto consideration.His presence in the box will further bolster acomplete dead ball makeover from last year’s inept options.

In essence, Cahill’s acquisition will boost the Red Bull’s offense,  but also force the team to retool their starting eleven from top tobottom, compelling New York to make difficult personnel decisions ontheir final push towards the post-season.

Here is an in-depth look at the Red Bulls' options now that they have Cahill on the way:


This week, New York experimented with a 4-3-3 formation thanks to the addition of striker Sebastian Le Toux.The fleeting foray into total football was abysmal.More often than not, the team lost the fire power of Thierry Henry up top as he back-tracked into a two-way game.Meanwhile, Le Toux and a Kenny Cooper struggled to find the right connection up top.After 20 minutes of  forcing the issue against the Sounders last Sunday, the team revertedback to it’s traditional 4-4-2 form.

In order for a 4-3-3 to work, a team must have a tireless and capabletwo way midfielder playing centrally who is equally adept to breaking afast run and tracking back on defense.Cahill fits the bill.He is acapable transition player who has excelled in that role at the highestlevel’s of competition.

If that is the team’s new direction, there will be all of twomidfield positions left to fill and many options to be had therein.Atfull strength, stalwart veteran Joel Lindpere would likely have to compete with rookie sensation Connor Lade on the left.The right hand side would likely feature Jan Gunnar Solli.The odd man out? This year’s standout midfield general, Dax McCarty (though he could also push for a spot on the right as he has done in year's past).

Here is an idea of what the field may look like:

Henry — Cooper — Le Toux
Lindpere — Cahill — Solli
Pearce — Conde — Holgersson — Barklage

From there, things get even muddier.Teemu Tainio and Rafa Marquezare both expected to be available by months end.Will Tainio be allowedto compete for his old spot?Will Marquez continue at midfield?

Even with a 4-4-2, you run into personnel issues.Clearly, Le Touxdid not join New York to simply be pushed out of a forward spot.IfHenry and Cooper stake claim to the forward lines, Le Toux would likelybe thrown into a battle for minutes with Backe favorite and teamveteran Solli on the right. Backe acknowledged that the move inVancouver may have diminished Le Toux’s productivity in the past, but he would havelittle choice; it would either be that or the bench.

The middle of the pitch would feature Cahill partnering with eitherMcCarty, Tainio or Marquez,while the left side will, once again, featurea battle for minutes between Lindpere and Lade.

Here is an idea of what that would look like:

Henry — Cooper
Lindpere — Cahill — McCarty — Solli
Pearce — Conde — Holgersson — Barklage


Taking this one step further, a fully healthy Red Bulls lineup wouldbeg for the presence of Rafa Marquez on the pitch – whether deserved ornot.His salary demands no less.If that is the case, where would healign himself?If in the midfield, a 4-3-3 can be thrown out thewindow.With his age, lack of pace and a glut of options to filllimited roles, Rafa would be the odd man out, and that clearly can notbe the case for the Red Bulls $5 million dollar man.

That would likely force New York into a 4-4-2 formation.There,Marquez could align himself alongside Cahill, effectively pushing one ofthe Red Bulls most vibrant stars, McCarty, to the bench, or once again, into afight for minutes on the right hand side.

Henry — Cooper
Lindpere — Cahill — Marquez — Solli
Pearce — Conde — Holgersson — Barklage

Of course, all of this could change if Marquez accepts a slot in histraditional centerback role.The move would allow McCarty and Cahill topatrol the middle, leaving a healthy competition on the wings amongst ahandful of deserving players.

If that is the case, the Red Bulls would then have to find the bestformulation between the former Mexican Captain and a stable of capablepartners in Conde, Holgersson, Keel and Ruthven.Holgersson has become asteady commodity this season, earning the captain’s armband in severaloccasions for his efforts in the back.Neverthless, salary demands may make the Swedish back the odd man out in favor of an all-Latinduo in the heart of the defense:

Henry — Cooper
Lindpere — Cahill — McCarty — Solli
Pearce — Conde — Marquez — Barklage

In that scenario, the possibility also exists that Holgersson canchallenge on the right wing back position; an area he manned whenhelping lead Helsingborgs IF to a championship last season.The movewould have him pushing stand-out Brandon Barklage on the right while a Heath Pearce / Roy Miller duel decides the fate of the left hand side.


As has been the case all season long, it will be on the lap of HansBacke to find the winning combination to propel the team forward.Unlike recent history, it won’t be injuries forcing the manager’s hand,but a glut of options that will push Backe into making some verydifficult decisions.

Throughout the year, many players have stepped up when called upon.McCarty, Barklage, Lade, Ryan Meara and a plethora of bench options have been instrumental in catapulting New York to first place in the East.

Cahill’s addition will ultimately mean less time for either theteam’s emerging roleplayers or even some of their top veteran stars.

Two weeks ago, Red Bulls General Manager Erik Soler made the following statement; “My job is very simple; to get players in.I will leave Hans Backe all those decisions on how to play and who to play and all that.”

“I am a lucky guy,” he added with a playful smirk

He is right – and it is an enviable dilemma to have.

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62 Responses to Cahill’s potential impact on the Red Bulls

  1. Creige says:

    Pretty clear they need to dump Marquez now. Should have done it at the end of last season.

  2. maka says:

    I dislike Rafa. You’re not wrong: his salary demands that he plays. But he should have been shown the door a long time ago.

    It’s almost like we have to accept that the cancer must start even if there is no reason for him to do so. It’s crazy that everyone must accept something completely illogical as truth.

  3. The Dude says:

    Great piece, Dave. I agree: GET RID OF RAFA! He’s the one who spoils the dynamics–not anyone else.

    Here’s how I’d play it:
    Lindpere..Cahill…Le Toux

    Off the bench: Lade, Solli, Tainio.

    As always, though, injuries will help make Backe’s injuries easier. But if he used 3 subs per match, like a normal coach, the personnel issues wouldn’t be as big of a problem; everyone would get some PT.

  4. Taylor says:

    i’ve never liked NY, but Cahill is one of my all-time favorites as an Everton fan, i’m gonna have to root for them now. the guy is a fighter, plain and simple. he’s 5-10, but has scored over half his goals with his head, that is nuts.

  5. jlm says:

    why did it take so long to get to the obvious concerning marquez? he replaces holgersson in the back, no?

  6. PWW says:

    Agree – great piece of tactical analysis by Dave. I guess it goes without saying, but we had that attacking, distributing midfielder at this time last year in Dwayne Derosario…

  7. Sticky says:

    As someone who is NOT an RBNY fan, let me plead: Please, please, please, put Rafa in at center back. It’s like having a ticking time bomb right in the middle of the defense. Will he get carded? Injured? Pout and fume all game? Who knows? Get your bingo cards out and join in the fun!

  8. MiamiAl says:

    Tim Cahill > Luke Rogers

  9. TomG says:

    Will no one rid us of this troublesome Marquez?

  10. KFree says:

    Solid analysis, Dave. Interested to see what line up actually gets trotted out. Agree that Marquez will play, but more likely in the back line. Conde will be injured again likely, prolly push Holgy to rb over Barklage. The minutes quandary could be lessened, as stated earlier, if Backe used even one or two subs per match. With the reliable depth Soler has built, use of subs should be a possibility – even for Backe.

    When does Cahill arrive in NY for the medical? Anyone know what his personal terms are?

  11. Michael Stack says:

    unfortunately with this acquisition i believe lade will turn into just another agudelo if he doesnt get a starting spot within the next two years. it is imperative that marquez leaves

  12. Brain Guy says:

    Excellent piece. I think it slightly overstates the “high salary equals playing time” point, though. I realize it’s a factor, but I don’t think you start a guy just because his salary is higher than the next guy’s. Also, I do not see Holgersson playing right back. He would get burned by speedy wingers and lacks the ball skills to join the attack.

  13. TomG says:

    I don’t trust Rafa at CB. He has shown zero focus and effort in MLS. He has no pride in himself, doesn’t work with his teammates and his man marking is looser than Jared from Subway’s old sweaters.

  14. TomG says:

    Thank you Captain Obvious :)

  15. TomG says:

    Why can’t we transfer Marquez? Isn’t there anyone in Mexico willing to take his salary?

  16. Mario Romilio (@mromilio twitter) says:

    Dude, your 4-4-2 is my preferred alignment as well.

    To be fair to Backe, though, he hasnt had much to call upon from the bench until now.

    Lade for Lindpere at the 60-75min mark for an impact sub, Tainio I wouldnt count on for much in 2012, and Solli is versatile as a Right Back or Mid, he’ll get starts at both positions.

    This will allow Backe to rest Henry for LeToux up front, or mix and match the in-form striker combo.

    I love it. Stay healthy, Metros, and this talented group can go places.

  17. No says:

    I don’t think you’ve ever seen Cahill play.

  18. go usa says:

    Better shrimp on the barbie

  19. Chan says:

    I agree with Mario and the Dude, this would be my preferred setup and substitutes. Lade would create chaos for the opponent as a sub for the last 30 min. Dax has to be out there to be that extra CB that solidifies the defence. I would not count on Rafa at this point or the rest of the season, although I agree that his salary demands he play (choice: along side Conde).

  20. Neruda says:

    His role on Red Bulls is more of an advertising spokesperson. I read that Red Bull sold product with Rafa’s image on the cans in Mexico. If try and it was a success than they may not be able to dump Marquez.

    Maybe Red Bull sales will increase in Australia because of Cahill and then the corporate powers can tell NYRB to dump Rafa for good.

    This article is saying Marquez is old, slow, is a poor passer and add to that he takes speculative shots from deep that never come close to goal and there’s always his famous outbursts. BUT his salary demands he plays and even more importantly Red Bull sales to Mexicans in the US and Mexico demands he plays.

  21. DJ777 says:

    Everyone is screaming to get rid of Rafa but no one has come up with a way how. What team would be crazy enough to take Rafa’s contract?

  22. john.q says:

    i’m glad we are having these problems. Depth was a foreign word to the red bulls last season.

  23. AL says:

    Let’s see how Rafa does now that he has a couple of half-decent players to connect with on his team.
    His problem is that he went from the best teams in the world to one where most players lack the basic soccer skills of a professional footballer.

  24. Great thoughtful piece Dave!
    Very interested to see how this is managed.
    Looking forward to the 2nd half of the season.

    Will Backe sit Marquez if fully healthy and what will Marquez reaction be?

  25. young g says:

    Damn that is a deep team now…Jus saying

  26. The Imperative Voice says:

    I disagree with the argument you start Marquez for salary reasons. Houston now starts Bruin ($90 K base) and Kandji ($135 K base) ahead of Ching ($192 K base). That cut against the grain of salary, tradition, and historical performance (as well as the front office effort necessary to return him here), but the results improved accordingly.

    Ideally NY would loan him to some Mexican team that wants him, or trade him to a sucker…..errr, eager recipient within MLS, and move on. Failing that, you play your best XI and justifying your expenditure by playing an unproductive malcontent is a quick way to the middle of the table. You don’t bring in talent then sour it with him going through the motions. If he gets motivated, fine, but no coddling.

  27. The Imperative Voice says:

    Me-hi-co. Me-hi-co. Lots of money and plenty of domestic incentive to be the one bringing Marquez back home, even if he wrecks their team too. Think outside the box…

  28. Brian D says:

    As a Philly fan, this is terrifying. We’d better use our “No Cups” chant while we still can.

  29. Old School says:

    Sherjill MacDonald > Tim Cahill

    …it’s science.

  30. Weaksauce says:

    Cut him

  31. bryan says:

    actually a good amount of depth (if everyone is healthy) to implement a rotation.

  32. Santana says:

    Am I the only one who’s noticed that Hans Backe has achieved what no one before him could–get Kenny Cooper to stay central and play more of a traditional center forward role?

    Hence the two goals this past weekend.

    Perhaps a rigid 4-3-3 is the only thing that can convince him not to wander toward the sideline.

  33. jlm says:

    oh yeah. nice

  34. bryan says:

    i do see your point, but i think that is red apples to green apples. lol

    $5M compared to $192K? come on…

    and i’m not saying my personal opinion on who i would start, just simply pointing out it’s two similar, yet pretty different comparisons.

  35. gio says:

    Id go with Lade, Cahill, McCarty and Le Toux in the midfield in a 4-4-2 formation, having all these nonstop runners will prove dangerous.

  36. gio says:

    IDK, Agudelo scored in his national debut and knew he needed more minutes to keep it going with the national team. Lade seems like the kind of guy thats just happy to have been given a shot this year and is making the most of it, I see him having a long career with NY regardless if he returns to the bench or not. If lade keeps improving im positive he will have a starting spot…most likely at left mid.

  37. dan says:

    This is the kind of depth that the whole MLS needs. It’s a fantastic problem to have!

  38. Dan says:

    I would do a 4-3-3:


  39. Ceez says:

    Backe has time to decide. I don’t see Cahill playing soon, or starting at least.

    I don’t know what Cahill’s offseason regimen was like so I don’t know if he’s in midseason form as the rest of the lineup is. I agree he will start soon. Until Cahill gets into midseason fitness, builds chemistry, and adjusts his biological clock (time difference), I see the lineup staying the same as it has been recently. In a week or two, then we’ll see.

    I’m going to Montreal this weekend for the match. I don’t expect to see him play though.

  40. Steve the Arsonist says:

    15 years ago team salaries were, roughly, $1.8 mil. Teams struggled to get a decent starting XI on the field, and have a few subs who wouldn’t be embarrassing. Now look at the ‘problem’ an MLS team can have. Which of these quite good players are going to have to sit? Think practices are getting a little more serious?
    In the Euro press, stories about players from Euro leagues coming to play in the States and Canada increasingly just refer to the name of the team a player is coming to, without a preceding declaration of ‘MLS side’. We’re growin’ up campers. We ain’t growed up yet, but we’re growin’ up.

  41. Brain Guy says:

    “[A team] where most players lack the basic soccer skills of a professional footballer” ?

    Wow. I realize that MLS is not La Liga, but come on now.

  42. Aguinaga says:

    I call bs. Other equal or bigger name DP’s went through this apparent problem. See Beckham & Henry. They went from being on the best teams to being on some of the worst. Did they stop competing because they had an arrogant grandiose self image of where they came from? No, they competed despite it, because through all the loathing of bad passes and glares of frustration with their teammates and exasperation at the play, they kept and continue fighting. Because they are competitors. Because they are paid professionals. I’m sorry, finding it harder and harder to believe Rafa isn’t just taking the money and running with it while he bides his time.

  43. Creige says:

    So Rafa isn’t any good unless he plays with the best players in the world? That in itself is a damning assessment of his abilities.

  44. Charles says:

    I am sure he is a fighter, but….
    a 5’10” guys can’t have hops ? A 5’7″ guy won the NBA dunk contest.

  45. Charles says:

    I have close to zero soccer skills and I could win on the team Rafa won with too.

    What kind of player doesn’t make any team better ? A weak one.

  46. Use common sense dude says:

    Rafa isn’t a poor passer but he is everything else you highlighted though, he might make some nonchalant passes from time to time like any other player but he is the best passer on the team, save for Titi Henry.

  47. Camjam says:

    Where is a Nicholas Cage “You don’t say” meme when you need it!

  48. g-dub says:

    Counterpoint: Is it really a good problem? This team will basically be reorganizing from square one at 2/3 into the season. I think Soler’s job is more than just bringing in a random assortment of talented players. It’s about chemistry, roles and balance too. I’d go as far as to say RB would have had a better chance at trophies this year without the LeToux & Cahill moves As much as I love those players. Stability and team concept matters.

    Also – is Cahill really a 2 way midfielder? I see him as more of a forward player in the box. But maybe haven’t seen him enough.

  49. MarkyMark says:

    Can Cahill take free kicks? Cause we someone who is capable in this area. Rafa doesn’t cut it, Henry isn’t that great either.

    I disagree on McCarty. If Baacke has any sense of who’s workrate is what, Dax will be in for the long haul. Lindpere is the one who should be fighting for a spot.

  50. Jeff jones says:

    Didnt know you can cut a contracted player in the MLS unless you buy him out of his contract?

  51. Camjam says:

    I like this. I also think it provides good interchangeable pieces. For example: if NY plays a weaker team, slot Lindpere in for Taino. Conversely, if your opponenet is a little toughter, go with tainio in midfield/Holgersson for Marquez.

    then you still have some punch off the bench with Lade, Miller, and Ballouchy (ok, maybe not him)

  52. Camjam says:

    He’s played more as a target for set pieces at Everton

  53. Camjam says:

    This is probably the lineup I would go with as well. It could also be hard for teams to deal with, because they could easily morph into a 4-2-1-3 or a 4-1-2-3 with Le Toux pushing up and Lindpere playing alonside Cahill for added offense, or alonside McCarty for added defense.

    that fluidity would really throw some opponents for a loop

  54. Joamiq says:

    I highly, highly doubt that Lade and McCarty are coming out of the lineup right now, the way they’re playing.

    I expect to see something like this for now:


  55. RBNY says:

    How you like me now??

  56. Pete says:

    Dear Phily fans , You singing no cups to us is just soo stupid . as meaningless cups we do own are still cups , which you don’t have none …zero ,nada ….plus our team couple of youth championships too, so there are cups in our trophy case ….do you even have a throphy case in Phily ?

  57. inkedAG says:

    I’m not used to the positive stimuli of Metro/RB having so many options! 😀

  58. ag nigrin says:

    That is my line-up as well… No way Lade sits until he fs up!

  59. Your Daddy says:

    When you post, use a period once in awhile. It will really help make your intended message much clearer.

  60. Super says:

    I got his message w the commas just fine; it aint grammar school u know

  61. Tim F. says:

    Also, please bring on Kaka; trade Marquez