Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By DAN KARELL
Despite being a reported target for multiple head coaching positions this offseason, New York Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke doesn’t believe that assistant coach Robin Fraser is leaving the club any time soon.
Both the Jamaican Football Federation and the Colorado Rapids are reportedly currently considering the Jamaican-American for their head coach openings (with Real Salt Lake also previously showing interest before choosing Jeff Cassar). But Petke claims that he or the Red Bulls haven’t been contacted yet to speak with Fraser.
“He is (still) on the coaching staff,” said Petke via a conference call. “There are rules to follow in the league and at this moment, unless something has been kept from me internally which I doubt very highly, we have not been contacted by Colorado, Jamaica, or whoever, and that has to go through that protocol. I expect him to be with us (this season).”
Fraser has prior head coaching experience, having led Chivas USA in 2011 and 2012 before parting ways with the club and joining the Red Bulls prior to the 2013 MLS season.
Here are some more notes from Petke’s conference call:
LOOKING TO ADD DEPTH IN CENTRAL DEFENSE
With the departure this offseason of Markus Holgersson, the Red Bulls are lacking depth in central defense, with the only backup currently being homegrown signing Matt Miazga.
Though the preseason is only a few weeks away, Petke claimed that it would be “silly” for the club to not look at bringing in a new defender or two, but that they’re only going to be depth signings.
“Of course we need to add one more (center back) for depth reasons,” Petke said. “We’re not going out looking for a superstar center back, we’re happy with (Ibrahim) Sekagya and (Jamison) Olave, who are both very good players. I thought it would be silly if we weren’t looking to add a fourth option as depth.”
NEVER IN THE MIX FOR BRADLEY
With news that Michael Bradley is reportedly set to make a shocking move to Toronto FC, plenty of fans are wondering why the Red Bulls haven’t been very active in the free agent and transfer market this winter.
When asked about the Bradley signing, Petke said that his sources said it was nearly a done deal, but claimed that he was never informed that the club was involved in the chase to sign the U.S. Men’s National Team star. Petke added that after 18 years of constant overhaul, one of his goals this offseason has been to keep the core of the club together and to continue developing chemistry.
“We just won the Supporters’ Shield last year, which means that the team did well and we did something right,” Petke said. “It’s been almost a cliché about the New York organization with huge overhauls in the offseason, and that’s something I desperately want to get away from. There’s no reason. We have chemistry, we have a good returning core, there’s no reason to mess things up just for the sake of it.”
Petke did go on to say that if a player was to become available, he had faith in Red Bull that they would be able to sign the hypothetical player.
RED BULLS “MAKING PROGRESS” ON SIGNING A CREATIVE PLAYER
While the team may not have entered the Bradley sweepstakes, Petke and the technical staff are still keeping their eyes open for a creative midfielder.
Last year the team sorely lacked a classic “No. 10” midfielder, even though they scored more goals than any other team in the league. Many of the goals scored came via counterattack, the brilliance of Thierry Henry, or the grit and determination of Tim Cahill.
“We’ve made some progress and we’re still looking as well. With preseason so long you have to remember that guys like Eric Alexander and Johnny Steele were picked up during the preseason and went on to have great seasons. We’re not concerned, we’re not rushing to judgment or rushing to pick someone up. We feel that with who we’ve had an eye on, and hopefully other things will come up, if we do decide to grab somebody, it will be the right person.”
Petke said that a signing could come from either inside or outside the league. He did add the caveat that if they wanted another player from MLS, they would potentially have to part ways with multiple starters, something Petke isn’t willing to do.
PETKE LEARNED AN “ABSURD AMOUNT” IN LONDON TRIP
Along with Red Bulls sporting director Andy Roxburgh, Petke took a trip to London last month to watch a number of English Premier League teams such as Arsenal, West Ham, and Chelsea train and learn from them and their coaching staffs.
Looking back on the trip, Petke said that he learned an “absurd amount” and joked that he should have brought a pen and a notepad when he spent two hours speaking with legendary Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger.
“I picked up an absurd amount of things, and I would say one percent of that had to do with on-field type stuff,” Petke said. “I picked up a ridiculous amount of preparation stuff, behind the scenes stuff, player management, and a lot of that reassured (me) that I did things correctly with my staff this year and a lot was new ideas that I think can be invaluable for us.
“To be able to speak with specifically Arsene Wenger for over two hours, one-on-one, and him being so welcoming and sharing things with me was unbelievable. I’m wondering if I made a mistake because I went into those meetings saying ‘I’m not going to bring a notebook or a tape recorder, that would be like a reporter’, but as soon as we left, I ran to the car we had and jotted down as much of the things that I could remember.”
- With the MLS Combine commencing this weekend, Petke said that he, Robin Fraser, John Wolyniec (reserve team coach/player development), Cris da Silva (head scout), and Ricardo Campos (technical director) will all be heading down to Fort Lauderdale to scout.
- One change Petke said he would make for this season is planning out his training sessions a week at a time, instead of on the morning of the practice. That was something he picked up while in England.
- Petke reiterated that the decisions to part ways with Fabian Espindola and Markus Holgersson were solely financial.
- Petke also praised Dax McCarty and Eric Alexander for their U.S. Men’s National Team call-ups and joked that he won’t have to worry about them not being in shape once preseason begins.
What do you think of these notes? Do you see Fraser remaining with the Red Bulls? Expect him to be contacted by one of those teams? Do you see the Red Bulls signing a veteran CB or a younger one? Should the Red Bulls have tried to sign Bradley?
Share your thoughts below.