B&RU: The 2015 Supporters' Shield winners are having a slow start to the season; is it the players, the coaching, or a bit of both?
Bit of both, for me. The coaches can't make the ball go in the net, or our defenders stop shanking clearances and hobbling themselves. But it also took Jesse Marsch a little longer than it probably should for him to accept that firing our full-backs up the field and leaving two not-all-that-quick CBs to try to handle the counter was simply too risky with this roster. The defense has been a little more conservatively structured recently, and our results have improved. Of course, we started scoring too - and there's no winning without goals. Marsch made a few adjustments to what we do on the attacking side of the ball, and maybe we've been helped by the fact it seems we got so dreadful opponents stopped simply bunkering-and-breaking on us, but very simplistically: the coach fixed the defense; the players got themselves going in front of goal again.
B&RU: The Red Bulls heavily relied on Bradley Wright-Phillips last year; has the league figured him out or does he just need to get back in his groove?
It is mostly a form issue, I think. Plus the fact that we were figured out in the sense that for a while our Plan A was mostly to play narrow - and we just ran into crowds of opponents and sort of got lost. And then Plan B was to spread a bit wider and cross: BWP is not a tall man, he's not going to win a lot of headers.
But I think BWP's greatest strength is his intelligence. He's smart about where and when he makes his runs, and if you utilize that ability, he'll create a lot of chances for himself and others. When he's on form, he only needs one chance - but he's not an exceptional finisher. He's exceptional (certainly by MLS standards) off-the-ball, so much so that when he's really firing, it seems like he tries not to touch the ball at all until he's ready to shoot. He wants his runs relative to the movement of the ball to create space and opportunity. And I don't think that's something that really gets figured out. It can be contained by crowding him out, and it isn't a great deal of use if he's simply not finishing at all - and both those things were happening for a while.
But he's still substantially the guy who scored 44 goals in the last two regular seasons, and I think mostly he just needed to be allowed to do what he does best: outwit defenders and find space in front of goal. It feels like we made that adjustment a few games back, and his form and confidence is gradually returning.
B&RU: Aurelien Collin, why?
Ali Curtis can't resist a bargain? We want a fully Francophone defense by 2017? We really miss Armando Lozano and Collin is as close as we could get to filling that void?
I honestly have no idea.