Who are the most popular players on the New York Red Bulls? Who is your favorite?
If an independent organization, say the Pew Research Center, surveyed (scientifically, of course) a random sample of the fans at Red Bull Arena with this one question, what would the results be?
Odds are Henry would edge Cahill slightly as most popular, however, both men would practically share the role as consensus number one. Dax “The Ginger Prince” McCarty is a probable (and well picked) third choice that would make his King, Alexi Lalas, proud.
But who would come next?
Soccer Football hipsters might choose Olave, citing the big Colombian’s effect on the team’s winning percentage with him in the lineup, or more importantly, the win-less statistic without him. His tendency to score crucial goals is another endearing trait fans might have noticed in 2013.
A surprise pick in the top five perhaps could be Robles. Penalty saves tend to leave a lasting impression in fans’ minds. But where do the other 20 roster-filling players stand within the Red Bull fans’ hearts?
They attack, defend, provide width, offer passing options, and score goals. They are two-way wingers of course. Johnny Steele and Eric Alexander equally share the roles as my two favorites. This blog is dedicated to their service trekking up and down the touchline 90 minutes per game.
The difficulty of managing the multiple tasks as a two-way winger is almost indescribable to the average human being. They have to provide a consistent attacking threat without succumbing to drifting inside, track the opposite fullback’s and winger’s runs, provide coverage for their own fullback’s runs, and then finish a cross at the back post all in the space of minutes. Remember that Steele and Alexander admirably perform all these duties without being known for having significant sprinting ability.
From a limited junior collegiate career of mainly warming the bench, I can somewhat attest to how difficult being a two-way winger is. Heck (not Chris), even Petke benched the supremely talented, yet much maligned, Lloyd Sam for many games at the beginning of the season. A match-winning, two-goal performance against Kansas City on the road convinced the Long Island coach to throw him a few more games.
Yet his inability to master the storied two-way technique saw him never guarantee a starting role or last an entire game. With Petke’s timeless 4-4-2 formation likely to continue in 2014, the need for tireless, two-way wingers in the shape of Steele and Alexander (or newcomer Convey) appears set to stay.
Here I will provide analysis and reaction to all the latest New York Red Bulls news and games while always highlighting the efforts of the two-way winger. Now let us not forget our fallen two-way wingers whose time at Giant’s Stadium and the Arena seemed far too short. Van den Bergh and Lindpere, this blog is also dedicated to you.