By FRANCO PANIZO
Juninho’s first season with the New York Red Bulls also proved to be his last, and it wound up lasting less than a year.
The Red Bulls announced Wednesday afternoon that they have parted ways with Juninho after a first half of the MLS campaign that could best be described as frustrating for the Brazilian midfielder.
“We are very disappointed that Juninho has decided to return to Brazil because he is a great professional and a very talented footballer,” said Red Bulls Sporting Director Andy Roxburgh in a statement released by the club. “We wish him all of the best and thank him for his valuable contributions during the first half of the 2013 MLS campaign.”
“Before I leave for home, I want to thank the New York Red Bulls for the opportunity to experience MLS and to wish my teammates and the club’s excellent fans every success for the remainder of the season,” Juninho said in the same statement.
Sources have told SBI that the veteran’s frustrations stemmed with his lack of playing time and how he was used by head coach Mike Petke in the team’s system. Juninho – who had not been in training the last two days as he tended to what Petke called a “personal matter” – critiqued his rookie head coach’s tactics after last month’s 2-1 home loss to the Vancouver Whitecaps, saying the team that was deployed was too predictable and defensive-minded with its two blocks of four.
Juninho had failed to find his form since signing with New York this past December and recently had been demoted to spot duty off the bench while Tim Cahill and Dax McCarty were the starting central midfielders Petke went with.
The 38-year old, who had been signed by the club several weeks before Petke was named head coach in January, had started in 10 of the 13 games he had played in this season. He delivered four assists in those matches but struggled with his free kicks and also earned a red card for kicking a dead ball at Jimmy Nielsen in a defeat at home to Sporting Kansas City in April.
What do you think of the Red Bulls parting ways with Juninho? Smart move? How will you look back on his time with the club?
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