UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J. – New York Red Bulls midfielder Joel Lindpere has decided he won't suit up for the Estonian National Team until the 2010 MLS campaign is finished, he explained Monday on the team’s official blog, Red Bull Reader.
“I have decided to respectfully decline call-ups by the Estonian National Team for the rest of the year to focus on the remainder of the MLS season,” Lindpere said on the blog. “I feel that it is important to help the Red Bulls, firstly, qualify for the playoffs and, secondly, compete for the MLS Cup championship.”
Estonia coach Tarmo Rüütli had called Lindpere for Friday's Euro 2012 qualifier against Italy, as well as a friendly against Uzbekistan on Sept. 7 in Tallinn.
On Saturday night, following the Red Bulls’ 2-0 defeat of San Jose in a match where he played the full 90 minutes, Lindpere explained to MLSsoccer.com the issue of playing with the national team.
“I have been with the national team now a long time over the past few years and, coming from a small country, it means a lot to me," he said. "I am proud of it. But my career is important, too. I want to make the right decision."
Lindpere declined an Estonia call-up in early August for a Euro qualifier against the Faroe Islands. Days before the scheduled international, Lindpere had played in a league match in Chicago. The timing of the national-team match, coupled with the travel needed to fly to Europe, precipitated his decision to decline the nod.
But the midfielder didn’t close the door on Saturday night to future participation with the national team, just not right now.
“I need to sit down and look at everything fully and what the future is with the national team,” Lindpere said.
The Red Bulls are expecting to miss four starters due to international call-ups when they travel to play Real Salt Lake on Saturday at Rio Tinto Stadium. Rafa Márquez (Mexico), Dane Richards (Jamaica), Bouna Coundoul (Senegal) and Roy Miller (Costa Rica) were also summoned to their national teams.
Head coach Hans Backe is no doubt breathing a sigh of relief that Lindpere won't make it five.
Kristian R. Dyer can be reached for comment at KristianRDyer@yahoo.com and followed at twitter.com/kdyer1012