Three games into the young season, the Red Bulls are still hunting for their first win. But following a strong 1-1 tie at Chicago last weekend – a match in which New York nearly got the three points – head coach Mike Petke believes it is too soon to worry though and that with 31 games still remaining in the season, the players will find their rhythm. Last season, New York started 0-2-2 before going onto win the MLS Supporters’ Shield for the best regular season record of 2013.
The second year head coach talked about a number of topics on his weekly conference call Tuesday with the local media, including the team getting its first win, playing Chivas USA, the team’s formation and what he’s seen from the reserve team.
Petke on the offense and getting a win
Being a former player himself, Petke understands that sometimes it takes a couple of games to get back into the swing of things. He is confident in his club that they will turn it around and find their rhythm on offense. Petke likes the progress the team is making with every game they play.
“We have 31 games left. Sometimes things take time to gel and click and as of now, like I said, it needs to continue to improve and it has. From the first game, to the second game, particularly to the third game, and it’s just about getting into a rhythm and I have confidence these guys are doing that. No, there’s no concern at all, not at all,” said Petke.
“I thought we saw a lot of good things in the Chicago game, you know, it was a big step for us. Having said that, it wasn’t perfect and there were still some things that we need to work on, but specifically on the road, having that mentality and going out there, it definitely is a good point to be at leading into this game against Chivas [USA] this weekend.”
Looking forward to Chivas USA
On Sunday, the Red Bulls will play host to Chivas USA, a young team that is led by first-year head coach Wilmer Cabrera.
After watching film on Chivas, Petke knows he has to ready his players for what should be a tough match at home, both defensively and offensively.
“They are a much more organized team. They get back in somewhat of a 4-4-2, pretty much, and they move together well and they make it very difficult for opponents to penetrate and get them through them,” said Petke of Chivas USA. “They do have a bit of flair going forward. They don’t over-commit, they’re very balanced in their transition game, they have a high work rate, and guys who love to get forward and get to the attack.”
On Sunday at Chicago, the Red Bulls started the match in a 4-4-2 formation, with Tim Cahill lining up next to Thierry Henry at the forward positions. Shortly after kick-off, the formation changed a bit with Henry dropping back into the midfield behind the forwards and Dax McCarty coming back in front of the centerbacks.
“We lined up as a 4-4-2 in this last game and decided to drop in many situations, drop Dax [McCarty] back in the midfield and Thierry’s [Henry] naturally always going to drop, so it gave us a little bit of balance,” said Petke. “It’s just that the freedom for certain players, for instance, Henry, to drop back and be creative, and then the discipline for certain players like Dax to read that and drop in the hole is key. Perhaps that’s one of the things that I’m very satisfied with this game is that certain guys bought into it and realized certain spots that they needed to be and then reacted in situations.”
For those who continue to ask what kind of team the Red Bulls are, Petke says the team will remain a 4-4-2 team, but expect to see the team playing in different formations when necessary.
“Going forward, I’m really trying to get away from the whole label of we’re a this, this, this team. It definitely looks like that and if I had to put a label on it, like I said, I guess we are, and continue to be somewhat of a 4-4-2 team, but players have to take it upon themselves to get into the right positions and it could look very different at times.”
Red Bulls Reserves:
In their first reserve match of the season, the Red Bulls Reserves fell to the Chicago Fire Reserves, 2-1, but Petke was happy with how the team played and pointed out how there is so much young talent on the squad. Andre Akpan scored the lone goal for the Red Bulls.
“The reserve game went well, as far as the way they played. They played very well; there were some very good moments,” said Petke. “We have young guys on this team, for instance, our two rookies, Chris Duvall and Eric Stevenson who continue to impress us, you have guys like Ruben Bover and Matt Miazga, Santiago [Castano] in the goal, just to name a couple, Andre Akpan up front. These guys are good players … I’m very convinced and I know they will have their shot at some point. So, they need to keep putting in performances like this and it continues to this weekend with their reserve game.”
Here is the lineup from the reserves match Sunday:
Ryan Meara; Chris Duvall, Matt Miazga, Armando Lozano, Ambroise Oyongo; Connor Lade, Michael Bustamante, Ruben Bover; Marius Obekop, Eric Stevenson, Andre Akpan