June 19, 2011
By Michael Lewis
U.S. will try to slow down Red Bull standout
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Speed kills — especially on a soccer field.
A fast player will leave defenders in his wake, goalkeepers with back aches picking up the ball from the back of the net and teams out of competitions.
That is one reason why the U.S. is taking Jamaica and it’s speedster, Red Bulls midfielder Dane Richards seriously, very seriously in the CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinal at RFK Stadium at 3 p.m. ET on Sunday.
Richards arguably is the fastest player in Major League Soccer, giving left fullbacks nightmares.
His Red Bulls teammate, central defender Tim Ream, a member of the U.S. National Team, is in a unique position in that he has tussled with Richards in practice the past two seasons.
Ream, who was benched for the 1-0 win over Guadeloupe after starting the first two Gold Cups, has been giving the U.S. coaching and teammates the rundown on Richards.
“Going over his tendencies and what he likes to do with the ball, how he plays. just letting them know what he’s all about because a lot of these guys haven’t played against him,” he said. Just going over what he does in a game throughout the game and how the things we can do to limit his touches and his space.”
Asked how he would stop the Jamaican flash, Ream replied, “I don’t know.”
Then he gave a way, without giving too much away. After all, after the tournament is over, they will play on the same club team.
“I mean, there are a couple of different ways,” he said. “You can stay tight and make him get rid of the ball quick. Obviously if he gets space and he can run, he’s going to hurt you.”
Ream is a longshot to start against Jamaica. U.S. coach Bob Bradley most likely will use the same backline as he did against Guadeloupe, with Eric Lichaj at left fullback. Captain Carlos Bocanegra, who started the first two matches at left back, took over for Ream in the middle
“He can be physical if he wants to be,” Ream said. “If Eric gets the nod at there, he should do pretty well.”
On Thursday, Bradley indicated that Lichaj would probably start vs. the Reggae Boyz.
“It’s a strong possibility,” Bradley said. “Certainly we were pleased with the way Eric played the other day.
“We knew there was going to be pace on that side of the field for Gualdeloupe. Eric matched their pace and dealt with their situations really well.”
Richards did not make himself available to the media after Jamaica’s practice at RFK Stadium on Saturday.
But Jamaica coach Theodore Whitmore talked about Richards’ contribution to the team.
“Dane Richards is a very fantastic player,” he said. “He brings a lot to the team, something that we have been lacking over the past couple of years. Dane Richards’ addition is a very fantastic to the team.”