Interim head coach Mike Petke noted that research would be a key component for the Red Bulls as they headed into the 2013 MLS SuperDraft in Indianapolis, Indiana. He admitted a number of names could be eliminated by that point in the draft order, but also said the hope was to eye a player who was hungry to learn, adapt, put the work in, and jell with his teammates on and off the field. Petke is confident he found the player that fits that mold when New York selected Georgetown University midfielder Ian Christianson.
“I look at the little things. Especially with the 22nd pick,” said Petke. “You’re not just looking at him on the field playing, you’re looking at his body type. He’s a physical guy. He’s a tall guy. He’ll sit right in there, and I think he gets stuck in.”
Even then it goes beyond the little things as well; tapping once again into the research department. New York saw Christianson in action even before this past week’s MLS Combine in Ft. Lauderdale, FL.
“We saw him a bit down in Georgetown and he exactly fits the bill of what we need,” Petke said. “He fits the bill as well as someone we could develop into a future. We’re very short behind Dax McCarty. I think that he needs to learn a little bit, we need to bring him along nicely, and he could be someone for the future for us.”
The Red Bulls entered the Indiana Convention Center with two different lists of players. One, a list of players they assumed would be off the board by the time the No. 22 overall selection rolled around. The other list, a shorter one, was a group of names the staff hoped would make it into the early part of the second round. After New England selected Donnie Smith with the 21st pick, New York was happy to see their guy was still available.
Off the field, Petke said he was happy with what he saw from the 21-year-old Iowa native’s strong family upbringing and experience traveling around the country.
“He went to Chicago to play in their system when he was a high school kid. He moved across the country to Georgetown, so he doesn’t need the comfort of being home with his parents. He’s comfortable leaving home and going far away. So that was important for us to know, that he’s not going to get lost in the big city. Like I said, personality wise, he passed. Aced with flying colors.”
Petke has made a habit out of working with and developing young talent after an 13-year career in which he defined a gritty, in-your-face style that fans came to love and admire. He may approach Christianson with a little more of a personal goal in mind – that is to say, by taking a page out of the Petke Playbook.
“I think he’s a very nice, respectful kid,” Petke said. “And you guys remember me when I played – I wasn’t very nice. So I’m going to rub off as much of that on him and hopefully we’re going to have a happy medium between his very nice upbringing, and the Mike Petke style.”