tBG) Is this the year that the New York Red Bulls lift the MLS Cup?
OaM) If you are going by our history, no. It's not that this team doesn't have potential, it could be one of the best teams this year. Right now we're hanging in third place and with six teams making the playoffs, so it's hard to say that the Red Bulls will miss out. They could go on a post season run, but D.C.& New England look to be in good form. Columbus and Orlando are struggling, but will figure things out at some point. In the west Dallas, Vancouver, and Seattle is going to be a dogfight and whoever comes out on top will be battle hardened when the cup final comes around. Could they do it? Yes. Will they? Probably not.
tBG) Has the good start the club has had this year help heal the wounds that were opened up by Mike Petke's sudden departure?
OaM) Yes and no. There is lingering tension about Mike Petke being fired. He is an icon of the club's history and will always have a soft spot in the heart of the fan base. The early season success has helped though. The Red Bull Out movement has been mostly silent since the season started. The Empire Supporter's Club had a protest during the home opener but has been backing the team since. If the season goes down the tubes, you can expect the hatred to come back, but it'll take a while for the wounds to fully heal.
tBG) It seems as though there's been a shift from a few years ago where the Red Bulls would splash the cash for high-priced Designated Players like Tim Cahill and Thierry Henry. To what do you attribute that, and do you think it's the way the club will continue to operate going forward?
OaM) I think it can be attributed to the history of MLS. Generally, teams that aren't LA that splash cash on Designated Players without a supporting cast don't do well. The best way to succeed is to get a good core of guys and build around, and only getting a DP if he fits the plan. The team seems to be embracing a true team first mentality and I don't see them moving away from it anytime soon. The players have bought into Marsch's system. Curtis, for all the flak he gets over Petke, knows how to play the game in MLS. It helps he was working for the league office before joining the Red Bulls.
Predicted lineup (4-2-3-1 L to R): Luis Robles; Kemar Lawrence, Damien Perrinelle, Karl Ouimette, Chris Duvall; Felipe Martins, Dax McCarty; Mike Grella, Sacha Kljestan, Lloyd Sam; Bradley Wright-Phillips
Predicted score: RBNY 3-1 Philadelphia Union