By DAVE MARTINEZ
New York Red Bulls’ Australian acquisition David Carney has finally received his visa, and not a moment too soon. With stalwart defender Jamison Olave out 10-12 days with a quad tear and Roy Miller’s impending international duty, Carney’s arrival couldn’t have come at a better time.
“As far as I know, and I could put a 99 percent on it, he will be here tonight and he has his Visa,” Petke told reporters during his weekly conference call. “That is the latest report I’ve got. So, he won’t be at practice, as far as I know today, and we have off tomorrow, so Thursday he should be at practice, ready to practice with the Visa.”
According to team officials, Carney is still on track for that timetable.
The signing of Carney surprised many Red Bull fans, but is a logical pick-up for a team that is strikingly low on left sided options. Roy Miller’s last international call of duty forced the Red Bulls to take players out of position to cover in his absence. Meanwhile, the lack of a capable number two at left midfield has forced New York to run Jonny Steele to the ground.
“Like we said, it’s a versatile player who could play, who’s easily comfortable to play two positions along the left side,” Petke noted. “You know, he’s a midfielder and he has a lot of experience at left back. He’s got great pace, very attack minded and likes to run at people. So that’s someone that that we thought would be smart to bring in to this mix. He came highly recommended from very reliable sources; people we trust. We had a look at him and the deal made sense for us.
“You know, to add depth and to push guys who are working hard to keep their starting positions, I think it was a no-brainer.”
Here are some more notes from this week’s weekly Red Bulls conference call:
RED BULLS EXPLORING DEFENSIVE OPTIONS
Carney’s addition isn’t the only area where Petke has looked at options. Against the Philadelphia Union, Markus Holgersson moved from his usual centerback slot and eased into a natural right back position, while Ugandan veteran Ibrahim Sekagya slotted in alongside Olave.
“One thing we’ve loved about Ibrahim since he’s been here is, obviously with his experience and where he’s played, he reads the game incredibly well,” Petke said. “There was some talk and little whispers about his age and this and that, but he reminds me – not to toot my assistant coach’s horn – but he reminds me of Robin Fraser a bit the last 3-4 years of his career when perhaps he lost his step from years past but his knowledge of the game is so good that he puts himself in great positions and I thought that he did well in that aspect.”
While Sekagya filled in admirably in Holgersson’s absence, the Swede also made a good impression on the right.
“You know, I had to really keep on him a bit in the beginning to make sure he knew that his first obligation is not to be an attacking outside back, but he did like to get forward a bit,” Petke observed. “I think he was very excited about that and I thought that there were some good moments. I thought it took a little bit for him to get used to but I thought there were some good moments. And yes, of course that does give us, in our minds, an option in the future if we need to go to that.”
THE ROAD AWAITS
A short stop at home didn’t go quite as expected for the Red Bulls. A 0-0 draw against the Union left the team feeling like they had dropped points instead of gaining them. Now, they head back on the road where uncertainty is follows the team like a shadow.
“You know, my big thing to these guys is that if we make the playoffs, we’re going to be on the road, at least for one game, hopefully more, and this has to change,” Petke noted.
Their opponent, Chivas USA, is one of the league’s weakest sides. Nevertheless, the opposition rarely tends to dictate New York’s fortunes. They began August with a thrilling 3-2 victory over Sporting KC and followed that up with a flat and lifeless 2-0 loss against the Crew.
Petke wants the team to take a more aggressive tact on the road.
“You know, going into Chivas, and the talk with the staff, my mindset is I would rather go in and just go after them, even though we are on the road, and that way leave no stone unturned and really try to get at them than sit back, be lethargic and cross you fingers for a result,” he said. “So this week we’re really going to hit on, even though we are on the road, in a controlled way getting forward, being in their half as much as possible.
“That’s not to say that hasn’t been the message all year but maybe we have to revisit that and maybe we have to make small adjustments,” he continued. “We’re going out two days early to L.A., so we’re rested. There shouldn’t be any excuses as far as, you know, fatigue or rest.”
While fatigue may not be an excuse for the Red Bulls boss, it is a stark reality. Ten of the team’s eleven starters have played in at least 20 of the team’s 25 games. Nine of the eleven have done so as starters, with Brandon Barklage being the only exception. Both Eric Alexander and Luis Robles has appeared in every game.
That type of usage has made the acquisition of reinforcements the focal point of the summer transfer window. Now, it is also the focus of training.
“We’re not going to kill them this week in practice because, to be quite honest with you, we have noticed a little bit of fatigue, especially players who have played a lot of minutes,” Petke said. “The Eric Alexanders, the Jonny Steele type guys. You know, so we’re not going to kill them this week. Having said all that, we’re hoping to get out (to Chivas) and there will be no excuse whatsoever.”
What do you think of these notes? Do you see Carney contributing on Sunday? Do you like Holgersson at right back? Do you feel that it’s time to give some starters a rest ahead of the playoff stretch?
Share your thoughts below.