Good offenses are fueled by teams that are capable of playing good defense, transitioning to offense, and possessing the ball. So New York not having Teemu Tainio is a huge loss and could have a great effect on the outcome of the match. He did not travel with the club to Los Angeles because of a groin injury.
The Finnish International was signed by the Red Bulls before the season started in March and has a long history of playing soccer at the highest level. He’s played in the UEFA Champions League with Auxerre, a club he spent eight years with, making 150 appearances for the team. Then he moved onto the English Premier League with Tottenham for three years. He rounded out his European career with Sunderland, Birmingham City in England and Ajax, the famous club from Amsterdam.
The signing with New York was a quiet one, and he had to go on trial with them before the club would commit to him. But he may be the best signings in the entire league.
Tainio has started and played every league match at defensive midfield for the Red Bulls so far this season. He played every minute of every match until he was subbed out at halftime of last week’s game against Sporting Kansas City with a groin injury.
He’s a hard worker who plays strong, tenacious defense. He’s also been the link from the defense to the offense. His passing has been crisp and he had been the key to the Red Bulls being one of the cleanest passing teams in the league. They’ve been a very good possession team, something head coach Hans Backe has been very proud of.
Tainio only has one assist this season and more times than not if the announcer is not saying his name, he’s having a good night. But the impact he has on the field was felt when he was removed from the Kansas City game.
“He’s a very important piece of the team,” Rafael Márquez said to the press. “He is the one that balances the entire squad on the field, so when he is not around, we always miss him.”
Carl Robinson, Tainio’s replacement, did not hold his own. The team’s time of possession was way down in the second half, and as a result, Kansas City’s attack was more potent and dangerous.
It’s unfair to say it was all Robinson’s fault, or that he won’t be able to get the job done adequately, it’s just that you can tell the kind of difference Tainio makes on the field.
His replacement, as well as the entire team, have their work cut out for them against the Galaxy.