By RYAN TOLMICH
The New York Red Bulls have had a rough start to their 2014 season.
It began with a 4-1 beating from the Vancouver Whitecaps in a game in which the Red Bulls never looked like they had a chance. The second game of the season saw a young Colorado Rapids side steal a point at Red Bull Arena. Overall, it is one point from two games that a defending Supporters Shield winner should expect to win.
However, the Red Bulls certainly have things to hang their hat on and one of those would be the exceptional play of 29-year-old winger Lloyd Sam.
Sam, who joined the team in 2012, has been the only Red Bull to bring their A-game in the team’s first two contests. The former Charlton Athletic man has assisted on both Red Bulls goals this season and his dynamic play on the wing has been the best source of creativity for a side that hasn’t been able to put together a consistent attack.
Sam’s performances haven’t gone unappreciated, as Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke is pleased with what he has seen thus far.
“He’s head and shoulders above where he was last year at this point,” Petke said. “He came in what the right attitude, worked hard and really focused on what we wanted out of him as a right sided midfielder. I’m very happy with Lloyd.”
“A year ago at this time, I wasn’t even fit,” Sam added. “I wasn’t ready to be part of the team, but I was trying to get through it. He’s right, I’m much further ahead than last year.”
Despite the praise from his head coach, Sam’s biggest focus after the game was on results.
“That’s all thats on my mind right now,” Sam said. “That should have been three points I think. After going 1-0 up, to give that away, it doesn’t really matter how I played. You have to win games, especially at home.”
Despite the less-than ideal results, the play of Sam has been a bright spot for the lackluster Red Bulls. If Sam can continue to put together performances like the pair that started the season, the Red Bulls struggles will soon be all but forgotten.