Mike Petke may have earned his first-career MLS win as a head coach last weekend against the Philadelphia Union, but as far as he’s concerned, it’s not about his personal accomplishments. He was very direct in saying so during a conference call with the media Tuesday afternoon.
“It felt great,” Petke said. “It felt great for the primary reason that it was three points.”
Those three points came as a big relief for a team that has, final results aside, put in winning efforts since the start of the season. A team that watched a 3-1 lead in Portland result in a 3-3 draw, a 1-0 lead in San Jose end in a 2-1 loss, an offensive assault on D.C. United chalk full of chances and shots on goal finish in a scoreless draw, and a visit north of the border to Montreal result in a 1-0 loss.
Petke addressed the team’s hard work since the start of the season in light of his club finishing on the other side of close matches.
Match Highlights: NY vs. PHI
“This was three weeks in the making,” he said. “They earned it. They earned it through their play the last couple of weeks, they earned it through their play Saturday and it’s just something to build on.”
It was, to take the words of midfielder Dax McCarty, a “Hallelujah” moment.
Sure, the players wanted to help Petke pick up his first ‘W,’ and likewise Petke wanted his team to earn their first win, but really, in the end, it was an all-around accomplishment and focus on the team-first mentality that emerged from the 2-1 victory over Philly.
“They’re a great group of guys, and I really mean it,” Petke said. “I was very impressed that they didn’t get frustrated over the last three or so weeks, because I know from watching the games that we deserved better than what we’ve gotten. For them to get this is great.”
The Red Bulls will aim to double up on wins Sunday when they visit the Chicago Fire for a 5:00 PM match at Toyota Park. Historically, New York has struggled against their Eastern Conference opponent, posting an all-time record of 12-22-9 (3-12-6 on the road).
One glance at the current MLS table suggests New York may have a slight edge over its 0-3-1 opponent, but much like New York’s stance just a week ago, the season is still young and anything is possible.
Petke drew the comparisons between his club and the Fire, suggesting Chicago may have experienced similar unfortunate circumstances as the Red Bulls in the early stages of the season.
“I think they’re a sleeping giant in a way. It’s a very dangerous team to play,” said Petke. “A team with quality, a team that has not gotten the results that perhaps they deserved at times. They’re a very dangerous team and we’re not taking them lightly at all.”
We’ll have more leading up to the Red Bulls’ match against Chicago all week long, right here on NewYorkRedBulls.com.