The New York Red Bulls entered their midseason friendly against Lyon on Tuesday wanting to do two things: be competitive and stay healthy.
The Red Bulls avoided sustaining any injuries and competed with Lyon all while giving a number of their more inexperienced players some valuable playing time in a 2-2 draw on Tuesday night. New York got off to a poor start in the game at Red Bull Arena, conceding the opener in the fourth minute, but they responded well and even took a brief lead before Yoann Gourcuff leveled the proceedings for good in the 75th minute.
“Aside from the first 15 minutes, I thought it was a good night,” said Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke. “I thought we did some good things and we got out of here, knock on wood, without any injuries. We scored two goals and like I said there was some good stuff out there.
“My expectations going into this match were, first and foremost, stay healthy, second, get a good run in. Those were my expectations out of this match. It was an odd time to have it but I understand the business side, so they got a good run out of it, everybody, and no injuries.”
With the Red Bulls set to face Toronto FC this Saturday, several seldom-used players saw time in the clash with Lyon in an effort to keep the regular starters fresh. There was veteran goalkeeper Kevin Hartman making a rare cameo, HomeGrown center back Matt Miazga making his Red Bulls debut, and midfielders Michael Bustamante and Marius Obekop seeing some extended minutes.
“You see in the second half the young guys come on and I think it shows that we’re a lot deeper than we have been in past years,” said veteran midfielder Dax McCarty, who scored New York’s equalizer in the 31st minute. “[There were] a lot of talented players, a lot of young guys who were matching up with some pretty big names out there, so it was a good exercise for us.”
For Petke, the main point of emphasis was that New York walked away unscathed from a friendly that was sandwiched in between two league games. But he also acknowledged the value of being able to give his younger players some minutes against such a talented opponent.
“Overall, it’s a stepping stone for them,” said Petke. “[Now] you know they can go back and put the video up for them and show them highlights of themselves against a quality opponent and point out things they need to improve.“