MLS All-Star Game 2011: Red Bulls Will Play A Large Part

Hans Backe, manager of the 2011 MLS All-Stars, will have three players from his New York Red Bulls on the pitch against Manchester United. Young USA internationals Tim Ream and Juan Agudelo are joined by former Arsenal striker Thierry Henry, who will be looking to score against United yet again.

Tim Ream was an integral piece of a Red Bulls defense that was among the best in MLS last season, and while New York have been shipping goals at an amazing rate this year, his individual performances have been fairly good. A good ball-playing left-footed centerback who can anticipate attacks and make good tackles, the main piece missing his game is on the attacking end: like most of the Red Bulls team, he doesn't provide much from set-pieces.

Many Red Bulls fans (myself included) had very high expectations for Juan Agudelo at the beginning of this season. It seems now that they were probably too high, and as Agudelo has gotten more playing time, more of his inadequacies have become apparent. While he has good individual skills and is one of few Red Bulls players who can score from headers, the American starlet tends to make poor choices, go for the spectacular too often, and dribble down dead ends. He may get on SportsCenter's Top 10 by scoring a spectacular goal in the All-Star Game, but Red Bulls fans will probably remember his performances this season for the expletives they shout whenever he runs into three defenders and loses the ball instead of passing.

Anyone who has paid even a small bit of attention to European football in the last ten years knows plenty about Thierry Henry, but many of the South Ward faithful were more than a bit skeptical about his commitment to the Red Bulls after a poor opening season and an even worse start to this campaign. However, since scoring late against San Jose back in April after missing a hatful of chances earlier in that game, Henry has been on a tear. He leads the Golden Boot race with 11 goals, and has used his full set of skills to score, with clinical penalty area finishes, a few poacher's goals, some brilliant distance strikes, and even a couple of headed goals. As always, he tends to drift in and out of games, a tendency for which he has received criticism, but his goal return and overall play have been excellent and Henry will likely be a major contender for league MVP come the end of the season.   

Ben Schneider, Once a Metro

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