Red Bulls expecting ‘big things’ from Oyongo

Ambroise Oyongo

By RYAN TOLMICH

Mike Petke has seen his fair share of great soccer players. Having spent time playing with or coaching names such as Juan Pablo Angel, Thierry Henry and Tim Cahill, the New York Red Bulls head coach has experienced some of the game’s elite first hand.

Petke is never the type of coach to throw around unnecessary praise, preferring to let his player’s actions on the field speak louder than his words. However after a string of impressive performances, Petke seems to have pegged the team’s next big star: 23-year-old Ambroise Oyongo.

The Cameroonian, whose name has been etched in the starting lineup at left back since June 27, has become a serious weapon for Petke and co., as the young fullback’s speed and ability to attack has left Petke raving.

“Listen, Oyongo is a player, within the next two years, that big things can happen for him globally,” Petke said of his young fullback after the Red Bulls’ friendly with Arsenal. “He’s a phenomenal young talent that seems to be improving on a weekly basis.”

The key word from Petke is improvement. Oyongo is far from a finished product, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Cahill though echoed Petke’s take on Oyongo, while also pointing to the youngster’s work ethic.

“We’ve been focusing a lot on him and having a complete performance,” Cahill said. “Taking away the mistakes, and the more he takes out of his game, the better he can become, even though he’s one of our shining players at the moment.

“I’m really happy for him because he’s a kid that wants to learn. When he first came in in the preseason, he was the guy in the gym that I could always see early in the morning. Sometimes, you think ‘is it going to last?’. It’s lasted with him. He gets it and he’s working hard.”

Oyongo worked as hard as ever in the Red Bulls last contest, a 1-0 victory over Arsenal. The 23-year-old was the only Red Bull to go a full 90 minutes, switching from left back to left midfielder in order to compliment a returning Roy Miller.

“It was good to see him,” Petke said. “We took an experiment, put him on the left midfield and he did very well with it.”

“He played well,” echoed Henry. “He played really well. With Ambroise, he will give you what he has. Whatever the position that he is playing… Ambroise, I guess, gave some problems to the boss to think about because he played well.” 

Those types of problems are far from the type that will keep Petke awake at night. For now, regardless of if he’s in the midfield or defense, Oyongo will become a much bigger problem for the rest of MLS.

“Oyongo is, if he continues to learn, continues to be willing to learn and keeps grounded, I think in the next two years, he is going to be a big name,” Petke said. “That’s my opinion.”

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What do you think of Oyongo’s rise to the Red Bulls starting lineup? Think he can become a permanent fixture on the left side for the rest of the season? Do you see him pushing Eric Alexander or Roy Miller out of the lineup?

Share your thoughts below.

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15 Responses to Red Bulls expecting ‘big things’ from Oyongo

  1. slowleftarm says:

    Roy Miller has been pretty solid when healthy since the SJ debacle last year so I think it’s worth trying Oyongo at left-mid in front of Miller. Definitely should try that tonight since Lloyd Sam is suspended. Alexander can move over from left-mid to right, which opens up a spot for Oyongo in midfield. Worth a shot anyway.

    • HooliganNYC says:

      Wasn’t that what we saw against Arsenal?
      Oyongo in front of Miller. I’ve been impressed with Oyongo too so far, he brings us much needed speed on the left side.

      I think the Red Bulls are just 1-2 pieces away from making it all work. 1 CB and 1 Attacking or Defensive Mid. I’m just not sold on the Cahill/McCarty tandem….

      • BrianK says:

        Tim Ream and Xavi would do it.

        • slowleftarm says:

          Neither of those guys are coming but a central mid and CB would be welcome. Jermaine Jones would be a good fit.

          • KFRZ says:

            S Kheidera, 3rd DP … 6 month loan for T Vermaelen with option for permanent deal when Henry retires at season end. Your welcome.

  2. Dos says:

    How about some color on where he came from/how they found him/how he ended up with RBNY? 23 is young, but not for a player coming from abroad

    • beto says:

      from wiki; he was playing in Cameroon with CAF Champions League team Coton Sport FC and the Cameroon U-20 team. Transfer to Lille fell through and NYRB jumped on the situation. Good work there – NY.

  3. NASL TO EL PASO TX says:

    So no ronaldinho news. I was watching the fox sports in Spanish and the press was saying to go after ronaldinho, like the big money teams like America and Cruz azul.
    Imagine dingo makes a move to boca or epl, and all the world will be definitely watching to see how it unfolds.

  4. Brian says:

    Question

    Red Bull is not spending money on big name DPs
    Red Bull is not spending money on any advertising, even as NYCFC tries to paint the town blue.

    Are these the signs of a business trying to make their balance sheet look good in preparation for
    selling the team?

    • Jay says:

      I doubt it more like a team trying to build through younger players and its own kids, then spend out on older stars unless they are special. I like their approach. It’s just not instant gratification like dropping money on DPs like NYCFC is. Both ways can work it just takes the right players.

    • slowleftarm says:

      The head of RBNY’s commercial operations was interviewed on the excellent Seeing Red podcast last week and he said the team’s approach was to establish a presence in the community through youth soccer or something to that effect. His response really didn’t make any sense and didn’t give me any reason for optimism as a fan of the team.

      This is now a year and a half with only 2 DPs. Frankly, I expect more from this ownership. They’ve had an eternity to identify a DP who’s a good fit. Henry is probably gone at the end of the season. There’s rumors of Cahill leaving and who could blame him given how he’s been played out of position since joining the team. The defense stinks. This team has a lot of problems and not much in the way of answers so far.

      • slowleftarm says:

        I’d also point out you can have a far greater presence in the community by making sure that people know you exist. This team has done such a bad job of marketing that many people aren’t even aware there’s already an MLS team in the NYC area.

        How about an english language radio deal for example? Still don’t have one. Meanwhile, NYCFC games will be on WFAN, the biggest sports station in NY, from day one, due to their connections with the Yankees.

        • Brian says:

          Red Bull Leipzig is going to be playing in 2Bundesliga this season.

          Red Bull GmbH HAS to prioritize this team and their efforts to reach the Bundesliga & Champions league.

          RBNY will probably just be a cost-effective branding exercise from here on out

          Sad

      • SonicDeathMonkey says:

        MLS has come a long way when fans are complaining about teams “only” having 2 DP’s.

  5. Joamiq says:

    Oyongo was tremendous again last night, at left mid. What a find. He needs to continue to start. I’m not as down on Alexander as most RB fans, but it’s obvious at this point that Oyongo on the left and Sam on the right is best for the team.