It was the longest 80 minutes of Luke Sassano’s life.
Following his ejection from last Saturday’s 4-0 loss to San Jose, Sassano spent much of the first half and all of the second half feeling dejected. In his words, he let “his team down.” Sassano said that he spent about 30 minutes feeling sorry for himself and recovering, but then he had to put the pieces together.
“At a certain point, you have to move on,” Sassano told MLSSoccer.com. “You can’t just dwell on it.”
Head Coach Hans Backe said that he anticipates Sassano seeing the field on Wednesday in a U.S. Open Cup play-in match and that while he hasn’t seen the video of the red card foul on the Earthquakes’ Bobby Convey, he has spoken to several people who said it clearly was an ejection worthy offense. What makes matters worse is that Sassano was making his first league start of the year.
And the start didn’t happen just because Sassano was playing in front of friends and family in San Jose, as some have reported.
“He’s been brilliant in every training session,” Backe said, praising the versatile player for his skill and effort on the practice field.
Sassano said that he is ready to bounce back and the memory of Saturday night’s red card won’t haunt him further. Wednesday night’s Open Cup match against New England will provide the perfect opportunity for Sassano to get the bad taste out of his mouth.
“It will be good to go out there, to build on the opportunity I had to start last week and hopefully perform well,” said Sassano, who said he won’t be shy on the field despite the ejection.
Matches like the U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday are important for Sassano and other players to see extended minutes. With the Red Bulls lineup projected to feature Chris Albright, Andy Boyens and John Wolyniec – three players with national team experience – the Red Bulls have a deep talent pool to choose from. So opportunities like the cup match become important for players like Sassano.
“This is probably the deepest team we’ve had since I got here,” Sassano said. “We all work really hard and really well together. If we keep doing what we did in the cup a few weeks ago, it is something for us all to build on.”
And for Luke Sassano, any opportunity to continue building his career, even if construction was halted on Saturday, is a good thing.
Kristian Dyer is a reporter for MLSSoccer.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.