The Red Bulls hosted Friday’s training session on the pitch at Red Bull Arena in anticipation of Saturday’s home opener against D.C. United. Unlike the typical session, however, the team was visited by a special member of the soccer family.
FC Barcelona head coach Tito Vilanova, who is undergoing cancer treatment in a nearby New York City hospital, paid a visit to Red Bull Arena Friday afternoon. After taking in the session, he walked down to the pitch to meet with former FC Barcelona forward Thierry Henry, Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke, and members of the New York front office.
“It was an honor to have Tito here to observe one of our training sessions at the Arena,” said Petke. “From shaking hands to speaking briefly, it's just not the sort of thing you get to enjoy every day. It was definitely a pleasant surprise.”
Vilanova was named head coach of the heralded Spanish side this past summer, replacing former manager Pep Guardiola. Assistant Coach Jordi Roura stepped in on an interim basis after Vilanova’s diagnosis of cancer, subsequent treatment, and surgery.
"On behalf of the entire organization, we wish Tito all the best with his treatment and hope for a speedy recovery," Petke said.