Petke Encouraged by Team's Performance Despite Tight Preseason Defeat

Red Bulls head coach reaction following opening Disney match against defending MLS Cup Champion

On Wednesday afternoon, the 2013 Supporters’ Shield-winning New York Red Bulls fell to Sporting Kansas City, the 2013 MLS Cup Champion, 1-0, in a tightly contested preseason match under the hot Florida sun. The battle between the East’s top two teams from last season was the opening match of the Disney Pro Soccer Classic preseason tournament at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.

PHOTOS: Check out the gallery from the Red Bulls-Sporting Kansas City match

Despite some quality chances for the Red Bulls in the first half, they found themselves to be on the defensive end of the ball for some periods of play. Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke was happy with the effort on defense despite Sporting KC having possession of the ball.

“First half, a predominantly starting group for us did well defensively,” Petke said. “We had long spells without the ball, but Kansas City never really threatened, which we wanted to see from our guys. Get into good defensive shape and then we exploded out of that for three or four opportunities, very happy.”

After a scoreless first half, the Red Bulls looked for the always-important first goal, but it would be Sporting KC forward Jacob Peterson to break the scoreless tie in the 65th minute after a Red Bulls error in the defensive end. Petke was pleased with the effort from his second half squad, but knows the team still has some work to do when playing out of the back under pressure.

“Second half team, the young guys specifically, with a couple of veterans sprinkled in, I was very impressed with. We took it to them right away, we held possession, we knocked the ball, and we found gaps.”

“The only real disappointment was the way that we gave up a goal, mental mistake, two or three in a row,” Petke explained. “Instead of just trying to clear the ball out we’re trying to really build it out nice and easy when we weren’t in a situation to do that.”

Red Bulls forward Peguy Luyindula, who lined up next to Bradley Wright-Phillips to start the first half, has been a bright spot for New York in preseason. Luyindula has lined up both as a central midfielder and second striker.

“When he has the ball at his feet to hold it, there’s not many guys in this league who have the experience and the ability to hold the ball like that,” said Petke. “If I only had one wish, we would have got him 10 years ago, but for his age and what we expect out of him we’re very satisfied with Peguy.”

For the Red Bulls, the goal now is to start building up minutes for the players leading up to the start of the season when the Red Bulls will travel to BC Place in Vancouver to take on Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Saturday, March 8. Petke fielded two different lineups for both halves on Wednesday.

“Today was the last 45-45 [minutes] we’ll do. It’s going to build up to about 60-65 next two games, up to 90 minutes to final game leading into Vancouver,” said Petke.

The Red Bulls return to preseason action on Saturday when they play the Montreal Impact in their next match of the Disney Pro Soccer Classic preseason tournament. Kickoff time for the match is set for 6:00 PM and will be streamed live on www.newyorkredbulls.com.