Preseason in Mexico:Day 7
During an interview with this website, midfielder John Rooney was talking to his interviewer about his performance against Atlante last Wednesday after practice when fellow rookie Teddy Schneider came out of nowhere and dumped a milk shake all over the Englishman’s head. The players in the stands erupted in laughter and Rooney was a good sport, wearing a small grin across his face.
“He owed me one,” said Rooney, who turned on the water jets while Schneider was in a tub, spraying the defender’s face a day earlier.
Amid all of the fun and games, Rooney has settled in with his new club both on and off the field. After being drafted by the Red Bulls in the second round of the MLS SuperDraft in January with much fanfare, the 20-year-old has focused his thoughts on earning a spot in the squad.
“I’ve thought I’ve settled in pretty well. All of the lads have made me feel welcome. I think the first two weeks of preseason have gone well,” Rooney said. “I think I’m adjusting to (the style of play) very well. I’m learning something new everyday which is obviously good and I’m looking forward to training every day.”
Rooney played his preferred position – central midfield – against Atlante and helped hold the hosts off the board, as New York earned a penalty kick shootout victory in its first preseason match of the year. Featuring in the entire second half, Rooney was able to hold his own against competition that was already a few games into its season.
“I thought I did well. The manager wanted us to keep our shape and I thought we did that well. My aim was to keep the ball and play simple,” Rooney said.
After spending his entire career in England, Rooney has been impressed with the preseason in Riviera Maya so far.
“It’s just been unbelievable, the resort we’re staying on is unbelievable, it’s a really nice hotel, and the training pitches have been fantastic. It’s just a great setup.”
RED BULLS TO PLAY CLOSED-DOOR MATCH SATURDAY
Rooney will likely participate in the Red Bulls’ second preseason match on Saturday (fans can follow the play-by-play via the team’s Twitter feed, @newyorkredbulls. Due to security reasons, the club is not releasing the time, location and opponent until right before the match.
New York looks to extend their winning streak to two after defeating Atlante in penalty kicks last Wednesday night. One of the starters from that game, Carlos Mendes, said that the team hopes to take the next step in improving with the regular season in mind.
“First, we need to stay solid defensively and look to not give up any goals,” Mendes said. “Hopefully, we can create some more stuff offensively and obviously win the game. We expect a good game and it’s going to be tough. “
For some of the younger players looking to make their mark earlier in camp, the Atlante match provided the first stage to show what they could provide. However, according to former Red Bull Academy product Matt Kassel, it is important to keep things in perspective.
“Everyone is going to make mistakes, but it’s just important to rebound from them,” Kassel said. “I thought (Wednesday) went well and every game is new opportunity. This next match tomorrow is going to be big for me and for the team, and against Chivas as well, and each game is a stepping stone.”
- Rooney and many of the rookies have stayed close throughout the first weeks of preseason. Kassel said the veterans have been just as welcoming. “It makes it easier for you,” Kassel said about having other rookies in camp. “That being said, the more experienced guys have been great, very friendly helping you through certain situations you need help on. But when you have a couple of rookies here, and I know a few of them, it helps a lot more.”
- Backe said after training to expect two different sides in the first and second half of tomorrow’s match. He spoke to the team’s beat writers in a conference call this afternoon.
- Ajax Amsterdam and former Tottenham Hotspur defender/midfielder Teemu Tainio joined the team in camp last night. He trained with the team, doing some fitness work.
- Mendes played at right back against Atlante after playing centrally most of last year. “Wherever the boss sees fit for me to play and where he thinks I can help the team. I played there a couple of times in the past and it’s a little bit of an adjustment but I’ll do whatever I can to help out,” Mendes said.
- As previously mentioned, follow us on Twitter (@newyorkredbulls) to get full updates from camp and tomorrow’s match.
Statistic of the Day:
237 – The approximate amount of milliliters of milk shake that was dumped on Rooney’s head by Schneider.