Luckily for Dane Richards, the color orange clearly helps him focus.
After being involved in one of the most gruesome scenes in MLS history last weekend, the Jamaican winger has been able to re-compose himself – and that will be easier when the Red Bulls take on team against whom he has had a lot of success.
Richards had a tough Saturday night, first missing out on a golden scoring opportunity in the first half at New England just yards away from goal. Minutes later, he collided with Revs 'keeper Preston Burpo in a scene that has been re-run countless times in replays.
“I felt his leg under me, but not strongly,” Richards told MLSsoccer.com of the horrific collision that left Burpo with a grotesquely broken leg that required immediate, season-ending surgery. Richards added the play and contact weren’t intentional: “It all happened so fast, I saw him come out then I tried to get out of the way. I tried [to get out of the way], but I still made contact.”
Richards added he got Burpo’s phone number on Tuesday morning and would call him later in the day. He hopes to talk with him and express his thoughts and well wishes to the keeper.
Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe called it maybe the worst injury he’s ever seen in his coaching career, but said he hasn’t talked to Richards about the play yet. The coach did praise Richards for remaining focused on the game after the injury stopped play for several minutes.
And now a midweek tilt against Houston may help Richards' head get even clearer. Every time the Red Bulls play the Dynamo, it seems like the Jamaican winger has a massive game. If he’s not scoring goals like he did against Houston in knocking them out of the playoffs in 2008, he’s tallying assists and being active down the right flank.
Richards will be moved back to the right wing Wednesday night after spending the last two games up top as a forward. He told MLSsoccer.com that he likes playing up top because he can “try to stretch defenders” but that he enjoys playing on the wing, too.
“That’s where I’ve played my whole career,” Richards said. "I’m going to go out there and be dangerous.”
As to why he always plays well against Houston, Richards explains that it stems from the playoffs in 2008 when a quote of his was taken out of context.
“I told the reporter that I planned on being dangerous against Houston down the right side,” Richards explained. “He then said that, ‘I planned on killing [former Houston midfielder] Wade Barrett.' Ever since then, I’ve been pumped to play them."
As for Wednesday night, Richards won’t make any bold proclamations in light of the comments being taken out of context two years ago. With a smile, he looked at a Red Bulls rep and made a simple statement.
“As a team, we’re all going to be dangerous,” Richards said with a laugh. Hopefully those orange jerseys will help him get back to focusing on his job.
Kristian Dyer is a reporter for MLSSoccer.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs. Kristian R. Dyer can be reached for comment at KristianRDyer@yahoo.com and followed at twitter.com/kdyer102.