Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By RYAN TOLMICH
With the MLS’ best set to take on Bayern Munich in Wednesday’s MLS All-Star Game, a trio of Red Bulls stars will be taking part in Portland’s All-Star festivities.
Thierry Henry, Bradley Wright-Phillips and Tim Cahill will make the trip to the Rose City for this week’s game, which is something Henry is looking forward to.
“When you go to the All-Star game, you have a laugh with those guys when, usually, you compete against them,” said Henry. “You have a lot of marketing stuff to do. It’s going to be a tough game playing against Bayern Munich. It won’t be easy, but I think everybody is looking forward to playing there.”
Henry is expected to play limited minutes at the turf-based Providence Park, as the forward’s minutes have been restricted at turf fields for the past few seasons. Meanwhile, Cahill, who will be making his second All-Star appearance, may face limited action as well due to an injured groin.
“At Real Salt Lake, I felt it and the last few days I didn’t really train,” said Cahill, who was substituted at halftime of Saturday’s win over the New England Revolution. “I ran on it yesterday, I left it right to the last hour.
“We’ve played eight games in three weeks and I couldn’t really take it to the next level where I could sprint or even pass. It was just precautionary for me as well to take care of it.”
However, whether or not the duo play significant minutes is unimportant to Henry, who said he was looking forward to seeing Bayern Munich star and French teammate Franck Ribery, but only “if he remembers” the former Arsenal star. For Henry, this week’s event is about the spectacle more so than the the result.
“Hopefully, we can perform against Bayern Munich,” Henry said, “but that’s not the main thing. It’s about (getting together), the fans of Portland getting to see Bayern Munich and getting to see some of the guys that they usually have a go at sometimes.
Here are some more Red Bulls news and notes:
RED BULLS ADAPT WELL TO DIAMOND FORMATION
Down both a man and a goal in Saturday’s clash with the New England Revolution, Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke did something slightly unconventional.
After the sending off of centerback Matt Miazaga, Petke and assistant coach Robin Fraser opted to stick with only one true central defender. That meant switching the team’s formation to include a diamond midfield in order to counteract the Revs’ passing through the midfield.
“I give my assistant coach Robin all the credit actually,” Petke said after the game, “but he was absolutely right. He said ‘we need to make their outside backs beat us,’ and he was absolutely right. It just clicked when he said that and we moved them right to a diamond.”
The Red Bulls tactical change forced the Revs fullbacks to orchestrate the bulk of the ball movement while limiting Revs’ playmakers Diego Fagundez and Lee Nguyen for the rest of the eventual 2-1 victory.
After the game, the players applauded the coaches’ change of formation while pointing to how well the team performed due to the new tactics.
“We played in a diamond and it did help,” Henry said. “(Sam) was tremendous. Eric (Alexander) also had to tuck in to stay in front of the three there… We did it well. It was one of the first time we tried this one and it worked. We’ll see, but it’s up to the boss. It was a special thing today.”
“We must have looked comfortable in that because it’s the best we’ve played all season,” said midfielder Lloyd Sam. “I’m not saying it’s what we should play going forward, but I think it was more about doing what we had to do.”
SAM, CAHILL POINT TO SATURDAY’S WIN AS SEASON TURNING POINT
Throughout the first 21 games of their season, the Red Bulls struggled to ever truly click.
The team would seemingly always follow a big step forward with an equally large step backwards, which has left Petke and his players befuddled throughout the season.
However, after Saturday’s come-from-behind victory over the Revolution, the Red Bulls were in high spirits, with both players and coaches praising each others’ work.
Cahill, who watched the second half comeback from the bench due to injury, pointed to the win as a possible defining moment, as the Australian sees Saturday’s victory as a major result in the Red Bulls’ push for the playoffs.
“In the season, you look for where the season changes,” said Cahill, “and tonight, with the points and the way it was going, this is it. One more win on top of this one puts us in a ridiculous position from where we would have been tonight if we lost.”
“When we fight together, we’re unbeatable. When we fight in twos or in threes, it’s not enough… You saw glimpses last week against Real Salt Lake and the football there, and you saw glimpses against Arsenal. Then tonight, the icing on the cake. I don’t know where we’re sitting, but I know those three points were massive.”
Sam, who assisted Wright-Phillips’ go-ahead score, agreed with Cahill and expressed his excitement for the season ahead.
“One-nil, backs against the wall with a half left and then getting the points?” Sam said. “I’m looking forward to training this week and I’m looking forward to the next game.”
What do you expect of the Red Bulls All-Star trio this weekend? Should the Red Bulls implement a diamond more often? Do you agree that Saturday’s result was a turning point?
Share your thoughts below.