When in the span of about 10 days you have played the glamour team of MLS featuring a former English Premier League star, four days later play the 2008 MLS Cup champions and one of the best teams in the league and then this Wednesday play your third match in the U.S. Open Cup – and none of those three matches are the biggest of the span, you must be the Red Bulls.
No disrespect to Seattle, Columbus and Colorado up next week, but this one means just a bit more.
When New York takes on Juventus on Sunday afternoon at Red Bull Arena in what promises to be a wet and wild affair, the Red Bulls are gauging themselves for a test against one of the best clubs in the world. Friday afternoon’s practice session, featuring players such as Brazilian international Diego, Italian legend of the national team Alessandro Del Piero and former French international David Trezeguet, was a spectacle. The crisp passing and deft touches on display are a taste of things to come when these two teams meet.
“This might be more important than a league match,” rookie defender Tim Ream told MLSSoccer.com. “This is something we want to play in and do well and show people just how we can play.”
It might be more than that for New York, who have lost three straight in league play. Two weeks ago, this match seemed like a nuisance in the crowded fixture schedule. Now with the team going through its longest losing streak since August of last year and Sunday afternoon gives the Red Bulls a chance to get the bad taste of losing out of their mouths.
“I think it might be good, maybe something different. Not more relaxed but just a chance to let us play and work things out,” Ream said.
Despite the snide, don’t count the Red Bulls out against one of the giants of the European game.
“We’re going to be fine, the season is long, these types of things, these losses, happen,” said forward John Wolyniec. “We played well [on Thursday night] we just need to put it all together.”
It looks like rookie Tony Tchani, who scored his first MLS goal on Thursday night against Columbus, will get the nod to start against Juventus. Both Joel Lindpere and Carl Robinson are unlikely to play due to injuries.
They’ll Get Reamed
Think rookie Tim Ream is nervous about playing Juventus? Not so much says the central defender, who is an early front runner for MLS Rookie of the Year. While Ream respects the Italian side, he isn’t necessarily star struck. And don’t expect Ream to give the typical response of most young players in this league when asked about playing in a big international friendly that he is amazed to be going up against someone he played with in a video game. “Don’t tell anyone, but I was never a big FIFA guy,” Ream said about the video game.
Not Taking New York Lightly
Don’t expect “The Old Lady” to take Sunday’s fixture lightly, even if it is just a friendly. Alessando Del Piero told reporters on Friday that Juventus is here to win and get a result, even after a long and grueling Serie A season that also saw the team play in the Champions League. “Of course, we are at the end of the season in Italy, a season that has been quite long and difficult for us,” Del Piero said. “However, we’re here because we want to look good, and therefore we have all the intention to practice and play in the best possible way, because we are sure that we can benefit from it.”
Kristian Dyer is a reporter for MLSSoccer.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.