Defender Mike Petke put away his cleats and picked up his handyman hat during the break.
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Red Bulls take advantage of WC break

Mike Petke most likely hasn’t been asked what he’s done during his summer vacation in quite some time, probably since grammar school, but the Red Bulls’ defender didn’t hesitate to respond.

“I worked around the house a whole lot and did a lot of projects,” Petke told He said that in the entirety of his professional career, which began in 1998, he’s never had a mid-season break this long.

Without a league game until June 26th, head coach Hans Backe gave the team some time off during the MLS’ World Cup break. Petke said that it was a great opportunity to get things done as he went away to Virginia for four days with the family and then put on his handyman hat around the shore house.

But the toil around the abode had ended and the one around the pitch has begun again, as the Red Bulls returned to training last Wednesday after a much needed 10-day layoff and then played to 4-2 loss against Brazilian club Cruzeiro on Friday.

Since the beginning of May, the team has played nine competitive matches and one exhibition over what amounted to a little more than a five week span.

“Yeah, it was a tough stretch for us, but we made it through,” Petke told “Twenty-one points through 12 games with seven wins so far? Second place in the East? Yeah, I’ll take that.”

While Petke didn’t have to travel too far to go home, some other players had to hop a plane for their summer vacation. Bouna Coundoul returned to Senegal for more than a week to be with family.

Estonian international Joel Lindpere, who’s used to the routine midseason breaks of the European leagues, also took a cross-Atlantic flight back home to be with friends and family. He said that his calf, injured earlier this month in league play, acted up on the flight to Estonia but a quick trip to the doctor and now “it is okay, all better.”

“Every holiday, I am going back home to be with my family and friends,” Lindpere said, adding that it was “good to go home and recover.”

But not all was rest and relaxation for the Red Bulls during their break. Petke told said that the team had a fitness routine that they were expected to keep up with, which included four-day running cycles with a day off in between. They were given heart monitors and the data from the monitors was sent to Jeremy Holsopple, the team’s strength and conditioning coach.

“In years past, maybe some of the players weren’t as good in keeping up with it,” Petke said with a laugh. “That wasn’t the case this year.”

Kristian Dyer is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.  He can be reached for comment at and followed on Twitter @kdyer1012.

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