HARRISON, NJ - APRIL 24: Dane Richards #19 of the New York Red Bulls plays the ball while being defended by Shea Salinas #11 of the Philadelphia Union during their game at Red Bull Arena on April 24, 2010 in Harrison, New Jersey. (Photo by Andy Marlin/Getty Images )
The Eastern Conference favorite New York Red Bulls held their Media Day on Tuesday. While much of the attention still settled upon Thierry Henry and Rafa Marquez, and understandably so, it will be the rest of the squad that will determine whether New York will both equal last season's Eastern Conference regular season title, and best their disappointing playoff loss to the San Jose Earthquakes.
Talking to Corey Hertzog, the team's rookie forward out of Penn State, provided a window into just how big the transition is from collegiate to pro soccer. After all, college basketball players play in front of crowds every bit as large as pro arenas- for Syracuse players, the transition from the Carrier Dome is actually a step down. But while Hertzog will play in front of 25,000 this Saturday against Seattle, his previous personal high was between 2,000-3,000, he said. "And that was against Akron," he added. The Zips, of course, a fifteen seed in basketball, provided something like 394 first round picks in the MLS Draft this year.
The always-engaging Dane Richards appears to be every bit as confident as he was last season, when he scored five goals in New York's final seven games. According to Richards, the game has slowed down for him in the area around the goal, providing a lethal combination with how quickly he manages to get there.
Tyler Lassiter may be a Tim Ream clone- left-footed, a skilled passer, and a worthy center back who already appears to be a draft-day steal for New York. But Lassiter rues the fact that his training has kept him from enjoying New York, particular the town's pizza. Here's hoping Lasiter celebrates an MLS Cup at Original Famous Ray's, Famous Original Ray's, or Ray's Famous Original, whichever comes first.
Hans Backe has drawn some criticism for his eschewing of the MLS playoffs- though wouldn't you be irritated if you succeeded all year at work, only to be judged a failure over one bad night?-but that doesn't mean he isn't eagerly following the Champions League in Europe. Backe likes Barcelona or Chelsea to take home the title. And he doesn't see Tottenham Hotspur making it to the end. Then again, who did?