Some New York Red Bulls fans posting in online forums and on social networking websites have, over the past several days, stated that they believe the team needs to switch things up at goalkeeper, if only for a match or two. Such individuals may get their wish, but for a different reason than ones they have listed.
Franco Panizo of MLSSoccer.com reported on Thursday that New York goalkeeper Bill Gaudette injured his lower back during training on Wednesday, and the injury could keep Gaudette sidelined when New York host Toronto FC on Saturday evening. Gaudette was acquired in a trade on July 13, and he has largely done well while filling in for injured rookie 'keeper Ryan Meara. With Meara lost for the season after he had surgery to fix a hip injury back in August, Luis Robles, acquired by the Red Bulls on August 8, would step into the starting role this coming Saturday if Gaudette can't go.
While Gaudette has been responsible for multiple highlight reel saves that have kept New York in games, he has also been guilty of a few miscues that have resulted in opposing teams finding the back of the net, goals that have cost the Red Bulls points. The thought among some in the RBNY fan base following the team's gut-punch 1-1 draw with New England Revolution last weekend (more on that match in a bit) was that Gaudette may simply need a bit of rest heading into the final month of the season. Others, however, speculated that perhaps Gaudette wasn't the answer for a team that has the most profound "MLS Cup or bust" mantra of any in the league.
Gaudette's first questionable decision came on August 26 when New York were away to Sporting KC. Gaudette was caught cheating off of his line, and he then had to rush outside of the penalty area in order to make a play on the ball. Kei Kamara ultimately nodded the ball into an empty net, a goal that put the hosts up early. Gaudette hesitated before coming off his line three days later during the team's match at DC United, and Dwayne De Rosario beat the 'keeper to the ball before scoring his 100th career MLS goal.
The most heartbreaking goal to date that the Red Bulls have given up this season came last Saturday against New England. Gaudette again came off his line to attack a looping ball that had been sent into the box, but he halted at the last second, stopping a couple of steps outside of a crowd of players. Darrius Barnes rose above all other players as Gaudette was stranded at the end of the six yard box, and the New England man headed the ball home to earn the Revs a point at the death.
The 31-year old Gaudette is a veteran journeyman who simply must make the correct play in each of the three instances listed above. That didn't happen, and those moments, along with several other issues, resulted in a six-point swing that has found the Red Bulls in third place in the Eastern Conference standings, five points behind KC. I'm not sure that Robles, a 'keeper who hasn't played in a significant game since last December, is the answer to New York's woes, nor do I think now is the time for a goalkeeper controversy.
I'd be willing to discuss the matter, though, if Robles has two solid outings between now and October 20.
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