By RYAN TOLMICH
New York Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke has every right to be frustrated.
The 2013 Supporters Shield champions were battered 4-1 in their opening matchup with the Vancouver Whitecaps. They followed that performance with a generally dominant effort against a young Colorado Rapids side, only to have a questionable penalty call cause them to walk away with just one point.
After emerging with just a draw from their opening two contests, Petke is looking for his team to show a little bit more creativity this weekend when they take on the Chicago Fire.
“Our midfield play and forwards, at times, were lacking creativity,” Petke said on a conference call Tuesday afternoon. “It’s not down to one specific person. You can’t point your finger at one person. There’s other people that have to move and get open and make those runs. To keep analyzing individuals, this is a team sport.”
“I think our off-ball movement has to be much better coming out of the back,” Petke continued. “We played a lot of long balls. It’s easy to point at the back defenders who have the ball at their feet and blame them, but it’s whats going on in front of them. At the end of the day, it’s just getting a bit more creative with where you are on the field, just shifting here and there to force defenders to make decisions.”
Here are more notes from Petke’s call with the media:
PETKE NOT WORRIED ABOUT CONVEY, TIRED LEGS
After Saturday’s game against the Rapids, offseason acquisition Bobby Convey was seen with a noticeable limp in the locker room. Convey, who played 67 minutes agains the Rapids, should be ready to go for this weekend’s game in Chicago.
“Obviously, Bobby has just a little bit of a knock on his calf,” said Petke. “It wasn’t serious, but it was enough that it was bothering him a little bit. He was here today and he played the full time.”
Aside from Convey, the Red Bulls have a healthy squad. However, Petke is planning on using the week between games as a chance to give his players a chance to rest.
“Aside from that, we have a couple of guys tired, but we have five days now, so we have plenty of time to recover.”
MOTIVATION OF LITTLE CONCERN
Coming off of a trophy winning campaign, it’s natural for a team to become complacent. Despite the lackluster start to the season, Petke isn’t concerned about his team lacking motivation.
“All the motivation they need is that they are professional soccer players playing in the New York area for the Red Bulls in a beautiful stadium. They get treated very well and that’s all the motivation that they need.
“Sometimes I try to motivate them with a story or something like that, but it’s not that often. They’re men at the end of the day.”
PETKE HONORED BY TIFO DISPLAY
Prior to the Red Bulls’ battle with the Rapids, the club unveiled a banner commemorating the 2013 Supporters Shield winning campaign. Accompanying the banner was a large display tifo display created by Red Bull Arena’s South Ward depicting Mike Petke holding the Supporters Shield trophy across the New York skyline.
Petke was overall appreciative of the recognition given to him by his club’s supporters.
“I was very honored, as always, by the South Ward and the Red Bull fans and supporters,” Petke said. “It was a little eerie, a little strange, looking up, to be honest with you, because I have 11 guys in front of me that go out there and play the game. It’s really not about me at all. I was very honored and humbled by that.”
Petke also stated that he tried his best not to be drawn in by the display, while also joking that he didn’t want to get caught staring.
“I wouldn’t say I was intentionally not looking at it,” said Petke. “I gave it a look. The last thing I was is for the camera to catch me staring at myself.”
Overall, it was the latest moment between Petke and Red Bull supporters that dates back the New York native’s debut with the team in 1998.
“For them to do something like that,” added Petke, “it’s another reason why I have the respect I have for them and the loyalty I have to them.”