Goldthwaite, Van den Bergh prove critics wrong in opener
By Pat Martin, MLS Editor
East Rutherford, NJ (Sports Network) -
Since the start of the preseason, it has been rumored that Red Bulls coach Juan Carlos Osorio is looking for more experienced left sided players to complete his roster.
"I was very concerned (about) not having competition for places," the Colombian coach said.
With left winger Dave van den Bergh and left back Kevin Goldthwaite scoring both goals in a 2-0 win over the Columbus Crew on Saturday night to open the Red Bulls' 2008 schedule, Osorio may want to rethink his plans.
"Kevin Goldthwaite, in my eyes, in my opinion, was the best player (in) the game today," Osorio said after the win.
In the team's new 3-5-2 or 3-4-1-2 system, there is greater responsibility placed on the wingers and fullbacks, and the left side - for one week at least - was the Red Bulls' strength.
Van den Bergh opened the scoring with the fastest goal to start a game in franchise history, just 46 seconds in.
"I didn't have a clear option to pass it to anybody," Van den Bergh said of his goal. "Juan Pablo (Angel) made a good run to make some space and I saw the left back pinching in so I couldn't really go that way, so I was like, all right, I'm going to take a shot."
The left side of the team surprised coach Juan Carlos Osorio.
After that, Goldthwaite pounced on a loose ball in the penalty area after a corner kick and fired home to give the Red Bulls a 2-0 advantage inside eight minutes.
"That was an absolutely right place at the right time goal," Goldthwaite said. "It was not a clinical finish at all. I think I had two or three touches on it but a goal is a goal for me. I'll take that any day of the week."
As far as the transfer rumors, Goldthwaite seems unconcerned.
"I try not to pay attention to it," he said. "I just try and come and play everyday, come to practice and have a good time and try to get better. Luckily tonight, things worked out. I got a goal, which is great. That doesn't happen that often for me. I think I played fairly solid defensively. As far as left sided rumors on the transfer market are concerned, I don't even pay attention to them."
A rather modest summary of his performance, if you ask Osorio.
"In the air (Goldthwaite) showed he is very competitive, very good," he said. "I think his distribution from the back (was very good). If I'm not mistaken I recall only one ball that he gave away in the first half. But rather than that, he came and played football. He was always an outlet and he is very competitive and very good in one-v-one situations."
It appears Goldthwaite is winning over Osorio, who is known as a defense- minded coach. Whether that is enough to keep him from bringing in more experienced players to fill positions on the left side is another story.
"If you start to think about things like that I think that is going to affect you negatively," Goldthwaite said. "I don't pay attention to it, I don't worry about it. If I'm his guy, I'm his guy. That's pretty much how I have to go about things. Anytime you try to play as if you want him to want you, then I think you get out of your game. As far as I'm concerned, I don't have any worries about it."
Van den Bergh, who missed portions of the preseason for personal reasons, appears to be the front-runner for the most versatile player on the Red Bulls' roster.
The former Dutch international played three different positions vs. the Crew Saturday. After starting on the left wing, he moved to the middle of the field to start the second half. Then, after center back Jeff Parke was booked with his second yellow 10 minutes from time, moved to the back line.
When asked if he was comfortable with his position in Osorio's system, Van den Bergh responded, "I played three positions today, so which one are you talking about?"
He later implied that he is most comfortable at left wing, however.
"I'm all right. Last year I played left mid and left back and this is kind of a combination between the two so I'm pretty comfortable in there," he said. "I think the whole team has adapted well to the new system."
HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE
Columbus Crew coach Sigi Schmid was obviously not happy with his team's performance Saturday, especially at the beginning of the game, but he attributes part of the reason for his team's poor play to the surface at Giants Stadium.
"We didn't deal well with the turf," he said. "The field is slick and it's fast. It's not what we normally play on and the early part of the game you have to play a little more direct until you get used to the surface. We were trying to play combinations and passes in our defensive part of the field and ended up giving the ball away time and time again, so it allowed them to put pressure on us."
The Crew will have a chance to rebound on a more familiar field when they host Chivas USA at Crew Stadium next Saturday.
OSORIO ON REYNA
When asked to grade the performance on one of the Red Bulls' two designated players, Claudio Reyna, who played in the attacking midfield role, Osorio said, "In my opinion, good performance for the team. Football is a matter of opinions and some of you might think that we need a playmaker that dribbles a lot and other stuff. With me, I'm pleased (with what Reyna brings). If we get the two other players we are looking for (on the transfer market), we will open more space and he will be more influential. I will keep putting him on and eventually he will become very, very important for us."