By DAN KARELL
Starting his second match in five days last Wednesday, Juninho had one of his best matches, hitting terrific set pieces and moving the ball from side-to-side in open play. It was hard to believe that he was 38-years-old.
But his actions in the 90th minute of play, where he struck a ball up towards Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen that eventually got the Brazilian sent off, made some wonder if he was even younger.
Following the match, Juninho spoke to the press about his frustrations with his transition in in America and why he got the red card.
“The communication I have had with the refs has been a little bit difficult because of the language barrier,” Juninho said through the Red Bulls Technical Director Ricardo Campos. “I was very frustrated with the goalkeeper who was delaying the game a lot, and I tried to rush him a little bit.
“I also feel that the goalkeeper exaggerated a lot, and the ball didn’t hit near his face.”
Though he was remorseful about letting his team down by getting a red card, Juninho didn’t seek out Nielsen after the match to apologize.
Here are some more notes on the Red Bulls:
PETKE ALLAYS OLAVE INJURY CONCERN
Red Bulls manager Mike Petke had to go to his bench much earlier than he wanted during last Wednesday’s loss when Jamison Olave limped off the field with a left knee injury in the 30th minute. Following the match, Petke said that it didn’t seem overly serious, but they still needed to run some tests.
At practice on Thursday, Petke revealed that Olave’s injury was responding better than expected.
“It’s not as bad as we thought,” Petke told MLSSoccer.com. “I believe it’s just a hyper-extension, sort of, so I’m going to get the final diagnosis [later]. I believe he is getting an MRI just to clarify everything, but I don’t think it’s bad as we thought.”
It is unknown yet whether Olave will be fit to play on Saturday’s match against the New England Revolution.
OBEKOP MAKES MLS DEBUT
One of the bright spots on Wednesday for the Red Bulls was the debut of midfielder Marius Obekop.
The 18-year-old Cameroon native, who signed for the club on March 18, came on for Tim Cahill in the 77th minute, and got a couple shots off during his 13 minutes on the pitch, though none were on target.
He’s an exciting player,” Petke said. “He’s earned a spot to get on in that situation and hopefully be a spark and get forward. I thought he was okay in his debut.”
Obekop last played for Renaissance FC de Nhoumou in Cameroon.
What do you make of this news? What did you think of Juninho’s red card? Do you see Olave playing on Saturday? What did you make of Obekop’s debut?
Share your thoughts below.