RBNY Midseason Grades

RBNY Midseason Grades

The most overlooked team in the MLS Eastern Conference heading into the season has surely turned a couple of heads this year, especially with their early season results. That is not to say that this team hasn’t experienced any growing pains, but the work done in the off season and commitment to the team’s youth has seen the New York Red Bulls start to blossom. Now that the MLS Season has reached its midpoint, it is a good time to take an objective look at where everyone stands.


Starting XI

Luis Robles – A+

Luis Robles continues to be a rock for this team. No matter what is happening in front of him, you can always count on Robles to be in control. His reflexes make him an excellent shot stopper and he is a vocal presence on the back line making sure that everyone is on the same page.

Chris Duvall – B-

Duvall was playing mostly well until his unfortunate injury. The second year man has shown growth in just about every category. In his rookie campaign, you could see that he hadn’t earned team trust and often overlapped only to open space and rarely to receive the ball. This year he has refined his offensive game and been much steadier in defense. Still needs to work on his marking and one v one skills, but he has a bright future should he return from injury with few setbacks.

Damien Perrinelle – B+

If you told me before the season that Perrinelle would be anchoring the backline, I would have imagined a defense that functioned like practice cones. Perrinelle has shown vast improvement from his first season that mostly saw him working his way back to full fitness. Credit Marsch with his improvement? Probably not, but it is still great to see the under the radar midseason pickup from last season contributing in a big way.

Matt Miazga – A

Unquestionably the brightest star on the team through the first half of the season. The kid is pure class. Great combination of speed, size, soccer IQ, and ability with the ball at his feet. The injury to Ronald Zubar looked like a huge setback for the team. Matt Miazga has shown that the French veteran may not have been needed after all. Not only has Miazga handled the regular duties, but he has been spectacular up against the likes of David Villa, and Kaka.

Kemar Lawrence – B+

The second biggest surprise of the season. Lawrence seemingly came out of nowhere and revitalized a long stagnant position for this Red Bulls squad. Long frustrated fans have been highly critical of wingbacks that tend to venture up the field while negating their defensive responsibilities. Lawrence has shown he can do both. More impressive is how well he has done one on one and covering for centerbacks when the field shifts. Catch him while you can, he won’t be here for long.

Felipe Martins – B-

The trade to send Ambroise Oyongo to Montreal was heavily lopsided from the go. The first big player transaction from Ali Curtis and Co was a slam dunk. Felipe has been a better defensive player than I thought capable, and when he settles in, he can be a fantastic deep lying playmaker. His pairing with McCarty isn’t always spot on, but when it works, it works like gangbusters. In and around the box he has been cursed with some bad luck, and probably deserves a couple more goals for his trouble. Would like to see him be a little less trigger shy. Still, a great pickup, especially considering how long it took Oyongo to actually play in Montreal.

Dax McCarty – B+

The captain started the season off showing he was ready to step up into the larger role he was given. He followed up a tremendous start with some forgettable performances where his turnovers led to chances and goals. After the long run of losses, McCarty has settled back down and continues to be the player that everything runs through. His best is sublime as evidenced by his beautiful one touch assist on BWP’s goal against the Revs.

Sacha Kljestan – B

The big man came back from Belgium in a big way. The cap of one of the most dangerous midfield triangles in the league has been a great catalyst for the club. His link up play has been crucial to a lot of goals scored for the Red Bulls, even if he is two passes behind the assist. His goal against OCSC was a reminder that you give Kljestan space at your own peril. Could definitely use to be more involved in creating chances directly, but doing quite well with his return to MLS.

Lloyd Sam – A+

Sam has been the best offensive player this year, hands down. Look no further than the period of games he missed to see the Sam effect. His connection with Grella and BWP cannot be overstated. The three headed beast up front keeps teams from clueing in on any one of them. But it is Sam who does the best job of opening up space and finishing off chances.

Mike Grella – C

Grella’s C grade might seem low, but he has been inconsistent in games. One main takeaway though is that Mike never gives up. Even when he is visibly exhausted he gives his all. Like Sam, he has been terrific 1 v. 1 this year and getting better as his confidence grows. While his footwork has been good, his strength has been just as much of an asset. His pace and passing let him down from time to time, especially his crossing, but his finishing has been mighty impressive.

Bradley Wright-Phillips – B+

BWP has grown in his role at the top of the line. His passing this year is far better than last year, even if his scoring has dropped, his assist rate is already way better than it was last year. His ability to score goals is streaky, but since he is linking up better with his wingers, that can mostly be overlooked. Still needs to do a better job at finishing his chances, but he is doing as well as anyone might guess after the “Henry”-effect is gone.



Sean Davis – C

In his limited time, Davis has shown he can be a top player, but he still has a long way to go. Great for depth, especially US Open Cup, which saw him score his first professional goal. Plays a lot like Sacha when situated underneath the strikers, but can do the same job as Felipe further back on the field. Willing to contribute all over the pitch wherever there is a need.

Ronald Zubar – Incomplete

It is impossible to rank Zubar in what little we have seen from him. While his performances were competent, the sample size is too small to make a good judgement.

Anthony Wallace – C

Graded cautiously low. Wallace was once a 9th pick overall in the MLS Draft. Injuries sort of derailed him, but he has played quite well when filling in at left back. His shot can be a laser, and his crossing can be quality, but the rust still shows. Still it is nice to have a player like this on the roster to help when times are tough.

Roy Miller – D

Miller in what limited minutes he has earned this season has shown to be falling down the depth chart. Ask yourself, given the choice between the two, would you start Wallace or Miller? Whether in the center or on the left, he just seems to have lost a step. A case could be made for him seeing time in the midfield, but if I’m Jesse Marsch, Miller would be used sparingly.

Connor Lade – C

Lade’s grade suffers more for his lack of minutes rather than his output. He will see regular minutes until Chris Duvall comes back, and it will be good to see what he can bring to the table. Lade was once a promising young player, maybe it is his time to shine. He certainly won’t be given a better opportunity to do it.

Anatole Abang – B-

Abang is starting to show just how gifted he is, but he is still quite raw. Still, few knew anything about him before the season, and it is safe to say they know a lot more about him now. His size, speed, and smart movement make him a threat. His touch, pass, and finishing could use some work, but he is still very young.

Dane Richards – D-

RB fans were probably excited to see the diminutive Jamaican back on the squad, but the excitement faded with his play on the field. He lost a step from his best days and didn’t contribute goals or assists in his time here. Sent out on loan for the rest of the season to Indy, and I’m betting it is the last we see of the once feared right midfielder with blazing speed. Not with a bang, but a whimper.

Sal Zizzo – C

Zizzo has filled in well, and helps offer the left wing a different dimension. He seems to get caught in two minds at times, and it forces him to make bad decisions. His pace and creativity can sometimes cause problems for the opposition defenders, but he needs to do better with his chances.

Karl Ouimette – C-

Ouimette showed the worst of the natural CBs on the team, but that still ain’t too bad. Suffered the most when paired with Miller. The two of them made for a horrible duo in the back. Ouimette is still quite young, and I like a lot of what is there, but he is a bit slow at times and not a very good passer of the ball. Good in the air, and solid positioning.