HARRISON, N.J. – They may not have picked up the win on Friday night, but the Red Bulls earned a small victory as Designated Player Gonzalo Veron made his return to the pitch in a 1-1 draw with Orlando City SC.
Signing with the team late last summer, Veron was beginning to hit his stride in preseason, linking up brilliantly with Bradley Wright-Phillips to form a dangerous attacking duo. Unfortunately for Veron, injury setbacks have limited his involvement in New York’s campaign to this point, but his teammates know just how valuable he can be when fully fit.
“Gonzalo is a threat to defenses all over this league,” Wright-Phillips said. “He’s very quick, direct; he can take players on to get assist and goals. So when he comes on, he just adds something different to Mike [Grella], Lloyd [Sam] and myself. It’s something for the opposition defenders to think about.”
Entering the match in the 64th minute, Veron was deployed to help give the attack new life. While not fully match fit, the Argentine was please to be back amongst his teammates.
“I felt really good, fast, good movements,” he said. “Just as I came into the match the match was in a moment where they were pressuring and we were playing defense so I didn't have many touches on the ball, but I played 25-30 minutes which was great. I hope this continues as the season goes on.”
Featuring for the first time since suffering a hamstring injury in New York’s 4-3 win over the Houston Dynamo on March 19, head coach Jesse Marsch was happy to see one of his more dynamic talents on the field, even if in an abbreviated capacity.
“I thought he made an impact on the game,” Marsch said. “We used him out wide, then we put him up high as a lone striker. He has a lot of flexibility; he’s gaining intelligence as to how we play the game. His sense of what we require out of those different positions is pretty clear and he’s just incredibly dangerous and explosive.
“We’re really happy to have back on the field and back in training. Now we’re looking forward to getting him fit and strong to help him establish himself in this team and this league because we think very highly of him.”
The early injuries were as much a mental strain as they were phsycial, but Veron is now looking forward to a positive season as he returns to the fold.
“You go a little crazy hoping to get back as soon as possible and it doesn't happen,” he admitted. “But you always have to work mentally to be ready. The season is long and rushing can lead to problems. After six, seven weeks, I’m happy to be back and I hope it continues as the season goes on.”