By RYAN TOLMICH
The New York Red Bulls enter the 2014 season fresh off of a Supporter’s Shield winning campaign. However, there is an elephant in the room for the franchise entering the regular season, as star forward Thierry Henry begins the final year of his contract.
Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke says that both the team and player are focusing on the ongoing preseason, as contract talks are still a long way off.
“It’s very early in the preseason,” Petke said on a conference call. “Obviously, Thierry wants to focus on the now, focus on the season and getting off to a good start. He’s continuing to do well in the preseason and I think that’s the farthest thing on his mind to be honest with you.
“I think we’d all be foolish to (not) realize that at some point, midseason on, that there will be discussions, because there has to be,” Petke added. “But at this stage, Thierry, I think is doing a great job in prioritizing on the now.”
However, Petke also stated that the Red Bulls are, as always, looking towards the future, as the club has never been one to shy from pursuing Designated Players.
“I don’t think it affects anything right now because no matter if Thierry was in his last year or if he had three more years, we’re always on the radar for potential Designated Players,” Petke said. “As it gets closer, realizing what’s going to go on in the following years after this, we can really narrow our search in a pool of players we’ve already identified as potential DPs.”
Petke went on to say that the Red Bulls make sure to monitor players at every position, including forwards.
“I would guess that if we had two players on our plate DP wise,” Petke said, “and we’re very interested in both of them, one is a midfielder and one is a forward, and we know that there is a deadline coming up, I’m assuming the talks with Thierry would happen, perhaps, before this deadline is met.
“We have players in mind for many positions, and if that time comes where we have to make a decision, we would do our best to find out what the future holds for one of our current players.”
PETKE ATTRIBUTES MORENO DEPARTURE TO “NOW MENTALITY”
The Red Bulls recently lost one of their brighter academy prospects, Amando Moreno, to Mexican side Tijuana.
The 18-year-old Moreno joined the Red Bulls academy in 2009 and made three first team appearances for the club. Despite the lack of on-field time, Petke thought very highly of Moreno and was disappointed in his departure.
“I’m a big fan of Amando’s,” Petke said with a sigh. “I’ve always been the first one to say that, and he knows that. We have a young player that has potential, who we saw, along with Santiago (Castano) who came from our academy, as one for the future. We have such a what I like to call the “now mentality” with a lot of young players in all sports. It’s just the way life is.”
Petke also addressed the struggles that young players face, specifically with a team as experienced as this Red Bulls side.
“It comes to a situation where you have to find these players minutes or we’re going to have to let them go and begin their career somewhere else,” Petke said. “As a player it’s frustrating, but I’ve never been on a team with this many experienced players. Most positions have two players with pedigree and experience. To have a young player behind them, automatically they’re looking at the third role right there and then it’s up to them to do whatever they can.”
Think Henry re-signs with the Red Bulls? How many more years would you like to see him around? Disappointed Moreno left for Mexico?
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