BY DAVE MARTINEZ
Breaking their scoreless streak and earning their first win of the season were encouraging accomplishments for the New York Red Bulls.
Earning that first head coaching victory for Mike Petke was icing on the cake.
“It’s great also to give Mike his first win,” team captain Thierry Henry noted. The French striker was instrumental in delivering the result with his game winning blast Saturday against the Union. “You have to think it’s a lot of pressure on him. He is a big and great competitor. Not saying pressure from the fans or (media). I just know he puts that on himself.
“I think it’s great to finally give him a win when we have been, at times, playing well.”
“You know the game plan is working well, but for the manager, we’re so happy for him because he works at it night and day and takes his work home with him as we do as well,” midfielder Tim Cahill said. “Out of everyone, I think he deserves it. You can tell he’s passionate for it and for us as players, we’ll do anything to get the result for him.”
Words like that from players who have seen and done it all touched the rookie head coach who spoke to the media Tuesday afternoon about his first victory as a manager.
“Of course I am very happy that they feel that way,” Petke acknowledged. “I try to treat all the players the right way and run this team in the right way – with total respect for the players and doing what is right for the players.
“For them to say things like that, of course, it makes me feel like everyone is on-board,” he continued. “They are willing to do what I say, they are working hard for me and that’s phenomenal.”
Away from his personal accomplishments, the victory buoyed the team’s hopes at a time when all seemed to be sinking. New York sat one point above the cellar-dwelling Chicago Fire heading into their home match against the Union. Three points have given the team some breathing space as they face the Fire this weekend at Toyota Park.
“I think it’s not only good to get it for Mike. It’s good to get it for everyone,” midfielder Dax McCarty said. “It’s a big weight off of our shoulders. It’s a bit of freedom we can play with now, even though we are playing pretty fluid.”
“It felt great for the primary reason that it was three points,” Petke noted. “I said to the guys, I congratulated them. To me, it was an accumulation of the previous two weeks where I think we deserved a result, but for one reason or another, we could not get it. It was three weeks in the making. They earned it through their play the last couple of weeks, they earned it on Saturday and it’s something to build on.
“It’s funny I am saying I am glad for them, and they are saying they are glad for me,” he laughed. “We should meet somewhere in the middle and we could get a lot of wins!”
NEWS AND NOTES
– Petke updated the injury situation with the team. “Espindola and Cahill are day to day. We are monitoring them,” he said. “Thierry came out and played a bit (in training Tuesday). He is still doing well. It is tough to get him off the field along with Cahill but we need to monitor him the right way.”
– Connor Lade has been diagnosed with plantar fasciitis. The team will wait to see his condition after the Chicago Fire match before deciding to activate him.
– On Luis Robles, who was upended by Conor Casey during the Union match on Saturday: “He never missed a beat. He is fine.”
– Meanwhile, the team is talking to their medical staff and monitoring the progress of Kevin Hartman awaiting word on his condition for availability. “We obviously understand being that he didn’t go through a preseason that it wasn’t going to be as if he was 100 percent ready,” Petke acknowledged, “but we’re pushing him as best we can and every day he’s showing improvement with fitness and everything, so I’m looking (for him to be ready) hopefully very, very shortly.”