1:57 pm Jun. 26, 2012
One of the recurring storylines for the New York Red Bulls, dating back to the time they were the Metrostars, was letting players go for almost nothing, only to see them become stars elsewhere. Peter Vermes, Brad Davis, Marvell Wynne: It's a long list for a team with so little history.
But on a night when the Red Bulls moved closer to upending some of the other bugaboos that have plagued the franchise--no Supporters Shield titles, no M.L.S. Cup victories--in a 3-2 win over DC United Sunday, a story of found talent emerged in which the New York team was actually a winner.
The talent in question was Brandon Barklage, a 25-year-old midfielder/defender who hails from St. Louis. He'd been with DC United from 2009-2011, appearing in just 11 games, before he was given his release. The Red Bulls signed him to provide depth, but little was expected from him.
He's been a revelation, making as many appearances already in 2012 with the Red Bulls as he had in three seasons with DC United. And Barklage provided the margin of victory on Sunday night, scoring a pair of goals. The first, on a corner kick, was the kind of conversion that so often eluded the Red Bulls last season (and plagued them on the defensive end). The second, well, was just a thing of beauty.
“It took four years to score my first goal,” Barklage said following the match. “But it feels unbelievable to do it against a team that told me at the end of the year last year that I couldn’t cut it.”
The performance made Thierry Henry, who came on as a substitute Sunday night in his return from a calf injury, look like a prophet.
Henry spoke positively to Michael Lewis after practice on Saturday about the number of injuries and suspensions suffered by the Red Bulls in 2012, since it allowed the team to utilize its depth.
"We always know what Lebron James is going to do what he is going to do," Henry said. "The role players. That's where you win the title ... That's how a team works. I'm actually happy that I missed some games. Rafa [Marquez] missed some games and we're fighting with D.C. and Kansas City. To me, that's pretty refreshing."
To the Red Bulls, seeing a player succeed in New York after failing elsewhere is a refreshing change as well.