BY DAVE MARTINEZ
The New York Red Bulls devastating loss against the Philadelphia Union this weekend surely brought some of the team’s weaknesses to light. Besides the obvious over-reliance on both Tim Cahill and Jamison Olave, the Red Bulls depth options fell far short in their attempt to cover for the team’s star players.
Can Bradley Wright-Phillips and Sebastian Stachnik be the answer to some of those woes?
The trialists are now into their second week of training with the club. Both Sporting Director Andy Roxburgh and head coach Mike Petke were impressed with their initial contributions, but one has certainly stood head and shoulders above the other.
“Wright-Philips, you can tell whether we do a small drill or a full 11 v 11 in practice, you can tell he has the ability and the soccer brain that he always looks to turn and go forward,” Petke said during Tuesday’s conference call. “His first choice is not backwards, it’s forward when he can and link up with people. That’s great to see somebody with such an offensive mind.”
Looking back on the first half of the season, Wright-Phillips’ killer instinct in attack is something Petke feels has been missing.
“The one thing I want to improve is our understanding, total understanding, when we go forward what we are looking for,” Petke noted. “I’ve made many comments about that being on me and the coaching staff and that’s true. We are working every day to get that. I am looking forward to the coming weeks being more fluid going forward, being more daring in the final (third) and not only creating the chances we have but capitalizing them.”
The brother of English international Shaun Wright-Phillips, Bradley has made enough of an impression to prompt the usually reserved Roxburgh to say the team can “hopefully” come to terms with the 28 year old attacker.
“He is a great kid, good attitude and he is making the most so far of his trial not even close to fully in shape,” Petke added.
Meanwhile, Sebastian Stachnik has also made a good impression with the team, but has struggled with his fitness.
“He reminds me a bit of a Chris Klein; a freight train up and down the wing,” Petke said. “Big strong kid. He has been trying to get into shape, a little more behind the eight ball than Wright-Phillips but I like what I’ve seen from both of them.”
The Red Bulls offered no word on whether or not either player would receive an offer to join the club.
TIM CAHILL RETURNING; IS AVAILABLE FOR HOUSTON
As mentioned earlier, Cahill was terribly missed in the Red Bulls midfield against the Union. While leading the Australian National Team into World Cup contention, New York’s star midfielder suffered a few setbacks of his own.
“Tim came off in that final World Cup qualifier somewhere around the 80th minute. He felt a little something in his groin – nothing to be concerned about,” Petke noted. “Even if he had come back he might not have been available for Philly.”
Physical issues aside, personal tragedy also struck while he was back home. “His mom had a pretty serious medical condition that popped up. She had to have emergency surgery,” Petke explained. “Of course we allowed him to stay there. She is fine now recovering. He jumped on a plane 12 hours ago.
“He should be in (Tuesday) and be ready to roll tomorrow for practice and this weekend.”
PETKE SIDES WITH REFS ON SAM’S RED CARD
Lloyd Sam’s challenge on a 50/50 ball with the Union’s Danny Cruz stirred up a fierce debate amongst Red Bull fans. Clearly, the foul did not show intent, but was the action reckless enough to warrant a red card?
Suprisingly, Mike Petke says it was.
“My initial thoughts are … he did show his studs,” Petke said. “I don’t think it was vicious. I think they both went down into something. It was a judgement call by the ref that either way could be justified.
“If you look at the replay, I didn’t initially go crazy on the red card,” he pointed out.
And while he admits to be “angry and upset” about the infraction itself, he didn’t think the call was unwarranted.
“I really believe – and this may be one of the few times I don’t say something against the refs – it was a judgement call that either way would have been justified. In this way I believe it was a bit justified that he did get a red card.
“Perhaps another ref in MLS or around the world would have went the other way with a warning but overall, he did show his cleats, the ref made the call and he is justified in that.”
JUNINHO “RARING TO GO”
As reported here yesterday, reports out of Paris quote Juninho saying he will retire at the end of the season. Considering his age, Petke did not find the news surprising, but did say he knew nothing about the players future.
“Retire at the end of the season? Juninho is raring to go. He practiced fully yesterday and will be available for the weekend,” Petke said. “Juninho is 38 years old. I am sure he is thinking about his future. He has not stated anything to us. I know nothing about him staying to us or anything I know about his future. I have no comment on that other than he is ready to roll this weekend and is excited to get out there.”