With seven games remaining in the 2011 MLS season, the New York Red Bulls are in danger of missing the playoffs.
As a result of Saturday night's 1-1 tie against the worst team in MLS, the Vancouver Whitecaps FC (4-13-10, 22 points), the Red Bulls (6-6-15, 33 points) are now in sixth place of the Eastern Conference. In addition, they've lost the final MLS playoff spot to rival D.C. United.
One thing that was noticeable on Saturday night was the "Go Backe Home" banner. While many Red Bulls fans haven't been pleased with the team's underachieving performance, Saturday night's banner was the second time this season fans have protested against the Red Bulls organization.
The first time fans protested the organization was on Saturday, July 23, 2011, when the South Ward remained silent for the first half of the Red Bulls match against FC Dallas. It was mainly centered around the Red Bulls decisions regarding the team's recent United States Open Cup match against the Chicago Fire.
As long as the protesting is conducted in a nonviolent manner, I seeing nothing wrong with what the supporters are doing. Understanding the time, money and personal love that supporters clubs invest, they have a right to voice their opinions.
While the Red Bulls organization may have the power to have any negative signs removed, it's still not addressing the one issue that concerns everyone: the team's inability to win. Last year, the team was rebuilding and its 2010 MLS Campaign was a success.
However, the team's 2011 season has been mediocre at best. If it were the Chicago Fire, who is tied with the Red Bulls for the most ties in MLS at 15 apiece, this season would be a decent one considering of the talent the Fire currently possesses.
The Red Bulls have signed Joel Lindpere, Luke Rodgers, Rafa Marquez, Thierry Henry, and their "problem solving" goalkeeper Frank Rost, who—along with Juan Agudelo, Dane Richards and Tim Ream—should bolster this team to being in the top five. Offensively, the Red Bulls have the firepower to produce goals as they're second in MLS with 42 goals scored. Defensively, they've allowed 38 goals.
This is a Red Bulls team that has not lived up to its fans expectations. The 5-2-6 home record is atrocious because with the talent that's on the squad, the record should be 10-1-2. With the South Ward supporting the Red Bulls with their chants, they've done their part in trying to make Red Bull Arena a hostile environment for their oppositions.
Then on the road, the team has a 1-4-9 record. At least five or six of the ties should be wins with the talent on this roster—it's a realistic expectation. The team is vulnerable to set pieces and on numerous occasions their goalkeepers have allowed goals that should have been prevented.
With an offense that constantly misses its opportunity to pull away by scoring an addition two to three goals, the Red Bulls going to have a difficult time defeating FC Dallas, Real Salt Lake, Portland Timbers, Toronto FC, Los Angeles Galaxy, Sporting Kansas City and the Philadelphia Union. Even though four of their final matches are at Red Bull Arena, there's no evidence that they'll be able to win each home game in order to produce the 45 points Hans Backe believes the team needs in order to reach the playoffs.
To be honest, it would be nice if the Red Bulls organization and Backe issued a letter of apology in the same manner that MLS-bound the Montreal Impact did when they addressed the team's lack of success. While it may not solve the team's problems on the pitch, at least it'll demonstrate that they're listening to their paying fans.
With the season winding down, it'll be interesting to see how creative the supporters will be when they voice their displeasure against their team at Red Bull Arena.
Cesar Diaz covers soccer for LatinoSports.com. He also writes for 5 Points Press and USSoccerPlayers.com, your source for American Soccer news brought to you by members of the U.S. national team. Easily accessible, you may reach Cesar at firstname.lastname@example.org and at Twitter at @CoveringSoccer.