Photo courtesy of New York Red Bulls
By FRANCO PANIZO
UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J. – Ruben Bover is going to be a work in progress.
The young New York Red Bulls winger and head coach Mike Petke admitted to such following the club’s practice on Wednesday, their first since their season-opening 3-3 draw with the Portland Timbers this past Sunday. The 20-year-old Bover – who formerly went by Ruben Izquierdo – started in that game but was not overly impressive, as he struggled to find the rhythm and make an impact in his debut.
Still, Petke has faith that better is still to come from Bover.
“Putting him out there shows the faith we have in him and what we think he can bring,” said Petke on Wednesday. “He obviously was a bit nervous and he wasn’t as sharp at times as usual, but he also showed glimpses of things and we know what he has to work on that’s being quicker with the ball at his feet, can’t hold onto it too long, especially in a league like this where if you get caught with the ball on your feet you’re going to get cleaned out and counter attacked.
“But I think it was a good experience for him and it’s going to be good for him moving forward.”
Bover agreed. The Spanish midfielder is still acclimatizing himself to MLS and all of the nuances that differentiate it from most other leagues in the world, including dealing with the long travel and speed of the game.
“It’s different to Spain. Here it’s quicker. The first 10, 20 minutes of the game is not barely football. It’s just going side to side,” said Bover, who shares the same agency as Red Bulls captain Thierry Henry. “But at the moment I feel okay. Slowly, I’m going to get better and get more used to it so just keep working.”
Here is more news from Red Bulls’ practice:
PETKE REFUSES TO BLAME TRAVEL WOES
Henry may be willing to be openly critical of the travel woes the Red Bulls experienced prior to departing for Portland last week, but Petke is not. Petke refused to blame the Red Bulls’ second-half letdown against the Timbers on their delayed departure from the New York area.
“I’m not about excuses, I don’t want my team making excuses,” said Petke. “At the end of the day, everybody has to travel. … All teams go through stuff like that and that’s the reason why I’m not making excuses for it because it’s not an isolated incident.
“Teams go through that every year, so we’re not the only ones. It is what it is.”
PETKE GIVES REASON FOR CLUB RETURNING TO EAST COAST
On the subject of travel, Petke explained why the Red Bulls opted to leave Portland and head back home despite having to take another long flight back to the west coast this weekend to take on the San Jose Earthquakes.
“The reason why we did not was first and foremost that we were away so much this preseason that (staying on the west coast) would have been counterproductive,” said Petke. “We had a full week (back home) and it wasn’t a Sunday-Saturday (set of games). If we were going back to play Saturday, we most likely would have stayed but we were able to get a red eye so we were home right away and be home with the families and back into your environment that you’re comfortable with.
“We checked with the medical department to make sure it wasn’t a physical thing and they said ‘Nope, because of that extra day you should be fine,’ so that’s not an issue at all.”
OTHER NOTES FROM WEDNESDAY’S TRAINING SESSION:
- Assistant coach Robin Fraser was not at training on Wednesday as he stayed on the west coast to tend to personal matters. Head of scouting Cris da Silva helped run the session.
- Trialist Peguy Luyindula looked sharper during a full-field scrimmage than he has in weeks. On one play, Luyindula brought down a ball from the air with a deft touch before turning and hitting a great through ball in behind the defense.
- Petke said a decision on Luyindula and Marius Obekop, the club’s other trialist, will be made soon.
What did you think of Bover’s MLS debut? Agree with Petke’s refusal to lay blame on the Red Bulls’ travel woes? Agree with the club returning home instead of staying on the west coast?
Share your thoughts below.