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2013 New York Red Bulls Midseason Review

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COMMENTARY | The New York Red Bulls will play their 17th Major League Soccer match of the 2013 season on Sunday against the Philadelphia Union, meaning they are about to be halfway through their regular-season fixtures. This year's RBNY have been the franchise's characteristic up-and-down roller-coaster ride fans have gotten used to over the past two decades, showing glimpses of a side that could either win the whole thing or find themselves fighting to merely earn a spot in the league's postseason tournament. It's bound to be another wacky summer for the Red Bulls and the team's loyal fan base.

Who would have it any other way?

2013 New York Red Bulls midseason review: MVP

It seems like just yesterday that Tim Cahill was taking to Twitter to lash out at a certain ESPN analyst who had criticized the play of the Australian. Whether or not that was a turning point for the former Everton star can be debated on your own time, but what's undeniable is that Cahill has done the majority of his talking on the pitch since what has become one very memorable Tweet. Just look at how the Red Bulls have played with and without Cahill in the team.

When Cahill has either been unavailable or unable to go a full 90 minutes, New York have been a side that couldn't get the job done when facing teams such as New England and Vancouver. With Cahill, the Red Bulls have been capable of late-game heroics against the likes of Toronto FC and LA Galaxy. Nobody in the RBNY squad has been more valuable, and all indications are that Cahill will be the key man for New York this summer and fall.

2013 New York Red Bulls midseason review: Petke

Rookie head coach Mike Petke having the Red Bulls en route to finishing in the top three of the MLS East standings is something that most New York supporters would have taken back at the start of March. Petke has been responsible for multiple questionable decisions (what exactly did Connor Lade do wrong?) and also some post-game antics/comments that I could do without, but he's remained true to his nature all the while. The positive about this is that New York have mirrored their coach's tenacity and heart throughout the entire campaign.

The negative is that such attributes alone only get you so far.

Now the pressure is on. Will Petke be able to keep his emotions in check in order to be the head coach his squad needs? Does he have the know-how to lead a team to a MLS Cup? We'll learn the answers to those questions further down the road, but for now it's "In Petke we trust" for all involved.

2013 New York Red Bulls midseason review: Glaring issue

The 2013 Red Bulls appear to be at least one front man away from being real contenders. Fabian Espindola is on pace to finish the season with just six total goals, and there are currently zero signs that Péguy Luyindula is on the verge of locating his shooting boots. New York's "forwards by committee" method of replacing Kenny Cooper, who had to be traded because of salary cap issues, has not produced the desired results on the field. Addressing this issue ASAP is a must for the RBNY front office.

The nightmare scenario is that captain Thierry Henry picks up a knock this summer, leaving the Red Bulls with a trio of strikers (Espindola, Luyindula and Andre Akpan) who are averaging roughly one goal per six league starts. That, simply stated, isn't going to cut it. Another proven goal scorer, whether that be a third designated player or a MLS journeyman, is required.

It's now up to RBNY sporting director Andy Roxburgh and company to find the right guy.

Zac has been covering the New York Red Bulls, USMNT, Holland, Tottenham Hotspur, Major League Soccer and other soccer leagues for Yahoo! Sports since 2010.

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