By JUSTIN FERGUSON
New York Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke is not one to mince words. So when asked about his thoughts on last Saturday’s scoreless draw at last-place Toronto FC, Petke said he was not planning on revisiting his team’s performance.
“It’s an anomaly, to be honest with you,” Petke said. “I have re-watched every one of our games this year, but I got this DVD, cracked it in half and threw it out. It’s something I don’t plan on doing a lot in my career, but I don’t think I could watch that game again.”
Saturday’s scoreless decision in Toronto marked the third straight time the Red Bulls have been shutout on the road. Petke said his team’s recent road form has caused him to ask questions about their game preparation.
“I have to sit down and ask, ‘Are we flying into cities too late? Should we go in two days early? Are we not doing the right thing as far as eating?’” Petke said. “I think these are issues we need to figure out so that we can have more energy (away from home).”
Here are some more notes from Tuesday’s conference call with Petke:
LOOKING AHEAD TO REAL SALT LAKE
The Red Bulls will be back at home this Saturday, when they welcome the league’s top team, Real Salt Lake. The match at Red Bull Arena will be New York’s only regular season meeting with RSL.
Even though the visitors will be without the likes of USMNT members Kyle Beckerman, Tony Beltran and Nick Rimando, Petke still expects a tough challenge from a squad that is coming off a disappointing loss to Sporting Kansas City.
“To me, it does not matter who they have, because Jason Kreis has done a phenomenal job over the last few years in getting the right players to fit into his system,” Petke said. “So it does not matter who they have, they play the same exact way. They are dedicated to what they want to do. They are very good with the ball at their feet, specifically down the middle. Their defense is very solid, and they have a potent attack.”
Petke felt like RSL were “very unlucky” to fall to Sporting Kansas City last Saturday. The league leaders fell at home 2-1 on a 97th-minute header from Ike Opara.
“Anybody who watched that game knows how dangerous and organized Salt Lake can be,” Petke said. “But we are looking forward to having this game at home and hopefully getting a result.”
PETKE PRAISES SPARK FROM OBEKOP
On Saturday, second-half substitute Marius Obekop came close to a stoppage time winner for the Red Bulls. The 18-year-old rookie from Cameroon also saw time during the club’s recent friendly vs. Lyon, and Petke spoke highly of what Obekop brings off the bench.
“I inserted him (on Saturday) because the one thing I know from Marius is that while he has a long way to go in grasping the tactical side of the game, he likes to get the ball and just go,” Petke said. “It was obvious that we needed some sort of spark. If we were up 1-0, you might not have seen Marius in the game.
“But that one run alone he had shows how dangerous he is. It was a game where we needed someone with his creativity and energy in one-on-one situations, and he almost pulled it off right there at the end.”
Obekop joined New York with forward Rafinha in March after impressing the club during his trial at the beginning of the year. The teenage midfielder was formerly with Renaissance in his home country’s top division and made his MLS debut in April against Sporting KC.
MILLER EXPECTED TO BE AVAILABLE VS. RSL
After a lengthy Gold Cup campaign with Costa Rica, defender Roy Miller is back with the Red Bulls.
“I saw Roy walking to training this morning,” Petke said. “I decided to shut him down for today because he’s been going like crazy. But he should be fully participating in practice tomorrow, leading up to the game this weekend.”
Miller started three of his country’s four matches in its Gold Cup run, which ended Sunday with a loss to Honduras. After a brief rest, Petke expects the 28-year-old to be ready to go for this weekend’s home match.
“I watched all of his (Gold Cup) games,” Petke said. “It’s great to have Roy back, and we anticipate that he will be fine to play this weekend against Salt Lake.”
What do you think of these notes? Surprised with Petke’s reaction to the Toronto draw? Have any predictions for the Red Bulls match against Real Salt Lake? Impressed with Obekop’s energy last Saturday?
Share your thoughts below.