Hans Backe has quite a challenge on his hands next Wednesday, when he'll lead the MLS All-Stars against world power Manchester United.
He has enough problems right now trying to coach his own talented team.
The once high-scoring New York Red Bulls have only one win in their past eight games, a slide they'll look to stop when they play their final game before the All-Star break Saturday against visiting FC Dallas.
New York (6-5-11) has an MLS-high 35 goals, but only one since thrashing Toronto FC 5-0 on July 6.
The Red Bulls followed that performance with a pair of shutouts, a 1-0 home loss against D.C. United and a scoreless draw at Chivas USA. They got on the board Wednesday at Colorado, but it came far too late. Thierry Henry's 10th goal of the season gave him the league lead, but that was merely the final tally in a 4-1 loss that dropped New York to 1-4-3 since June 10.
"We made so many mistakes in between each other," Backe told the league's official website. "I haven't seen that many (mistakes) in one and a half years with the team. It wasn't us at all."
The Red Bulls are still without striker Luke Rodgers (plantar fasciitis), but they could get a big break on the back line Saturday. All-Star defender Rafa Marquez - whom Backe previously said won't face Manchester United - is expected to play against Dallas (11-5-5), which would be his first league game since May 21 due to a Gold Cup hiatus and a hamstring injury.
Marquez will be challenged by an opponent that's tied with Seattle for the second-most points in the league, but like the Red Bulls, Dallas hasn't found offense easy to come by recently.
It failed to score in a 2-0 loss at Real Salt Lake on July 9 or a scoreless draw against D.C. United a week later, and was again shut out for a half Wednesday at Toronto. However, Brek Shea broke his club's 242-minute scoreless drought just after halftime with his team-leading eighth goal, and Dallas held on for a 1-0 win.
"Every time you score, you get more confidence and then you play with more confidence and that's how my season's been," Shea told the team's official website. "I keep building on what I've been doing and it's helped my success."
Brek Shea has made his mark on Thierry Henry. (Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Only Henry - who referred to Dallas as "the best team in the league" - has more goals than Shea, and the World Cup winner has been paying attention.
"The guy is amazing right now," Henry said of Shea. "He can take the ball by whoever he wants."
Shea was voted by fans into the All-Star game, but he'll miss the opportunity due to Dallas' CONCACAF Champions League match against Alianza FC in El Salvador on Thursday.
As complimentary as Henry was toward both Shea and his club, Backe wasn't nearly as willing to offer similar praise. While he called Saturday's match "a statement game", Backe also referred to Shea as "just another player."
New York has won its last four home matches against Dallas.