By RYAN TOLMICH
After missing last week’s loss to Toronto FC, midfielder Peguy Luyindula is still a question mark for the New York Red Bulls’ weekend match with the Portland Timbers.
Luyindula picked up a calf injury last week in training, but Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke isn’t worried about a long-term absence for the Frenchman.
“I would list Peguy as day-to-day,” Petke said. “He didn’t practice today. As soon as he feels up to it, we’re going to get him on the field and move on from there. So, as of now, he’s listed as day-to-day.”
Despite having a relatively thin roster, Petke stated that he will be fielding a strong team in this weekend’s game, even with the Red Bulls facing a trip to Sporting Kansas City just three days later.
“I’m going to put out the best lineup that I feel will get us a result this weekend, in no way looking at the Kansas City game, to be quite honest,” Petke said. “We’re looking to get a result this Saturday. We’re at home.
“Based on that, throughout the game, if we’re able to make a sub to rest some guys if the result’s going the right way, then we’ll do that. One thing we don’t want to do, and we didn’t last year ever, is look past the immediate game.”
Here are some more of today’s Red Bulls notes:
PETKE UNHAPPY WITH U.S. OPEN SCHEDULING, NOT FOCUSED ON COSMOS
The fourth round pairings for the 2014 U.S. Open Cup were released Tuesday and the Red Bulls will only need to look across the Hudson River to find their potential opponent.
The Red Bulls will take on the winner of the May 28 match between the Brooklyn Italians SC (NPSL) and the New York Cosmos (NASL) on either June 11 or June 14, respectively.
Ahead of the draw, Petke described a potential game on the 14th as “catastrophic” for his team. Petke has since changed his tune a bit, but the Red Bulls head coach is still far from happy with the scheduling process.
“The only thing I’m questioning is that U.S. Soccer didn’t pick the date,” Petke said. “They allowed the home team pick the date, which is kind of strange to me. I might let Dax McCarty pick the lineup this weekend going on that mindset.”
Despite the obvious hype that would surround a Red Bulls-Cosmos match, Petke insisted that the two clubs are in no way rivals due to the lack of familiarity.
“If (media members) want to create a rivalry, that’s one thing, but we haven’t faced the Cosmos,” Petke said. “How can you have a rivalry with a team that’s not in your league that you haven’t faced? For us, it creates a challenge with time off and players getting rest with all of the competitions coming up. But we’ll approach this game like we’ll play whoever it is that we play. Whether it’s Brooklyn, New York or Pittsburgh like we did last year, our mindset will be the same.”
Whether it’s the Cosmos or the Italians, a potential match with another New York team is sure to get local soccer fans talking, even though Petke insists it will be just another tournament game.
“It depends on how passionate the fans are about playing against another New York team,” Petke said. “We haven’t figured out who we’re going to play yet, but after that we’ll have a better understanding and everybody can voice their opinions, but it’ll just be another game for us.”
PETKE NOT WORRIED ABOUT RED BULLS, TIMBERS’ EARLY SEASON STRUGGLES
Heading into the 2014 season, the Red Bulls and Portland Timbers were pegged as playoff contenders in their respective conference. However, after rocky starts to the season, both teams find themselves looking for a statement win when they clash this weekend.
Despite the Timbers early struggles, which sees them with only 10 points from 11 games, Petke understands that the Red Bulls will be facing a team much better than their record indicates.
“Initially, absolutely I was surprised (by their struggles),” Petke said, “but looking at a lot of teams struggling this year, it’s just the way MLS can be. Portland is a very good team just like they were last year.”
Petke himself can sympathize with Caleb Porter and the Timbers, as many of the league’s projected contenders have struggled out of the gate.
“You look at some of the struggles we’ve had,” Petke said. “You look at the Galaxy in the basement. You look at Toronto. Before our game, over the previous handful of games, they struggled. It’s just the nature of this league at times and you get some pretty good teams at the beginning of the season.”
Despite the Red Bulls’ current position in the table, Petke insists he isn’t worried about his team’s performance, especially due to the nature of their losses.
“The players are very well aware of individual mistakes that have cost us points this year,” said Petke. “On one hand, you can like that better than teams breaking you down, but on the other hand, you’re scratching your head and it’s not a good thing that your team is making one or two individual errors that are leading to goals. … We’re certainly trying to clean up the things that aren’t going well and, for me, that starts with mentality.”
DESPITE TV COMMITMENTS, HENRY “UNLIKELY” TO MISS TIME
With the World Cup looming, television networks are adding some of the sport’s biggest stars to analyze soccer’s biggest tournament. One such analyst, Red Bulls star Thierry Henry, differs from many of his broadcasting coworkers in that he is still under contract with a team whose season is in full swing.
Despite Henry’s commitments to BBC, Petke has deemed it “unlikely” that Henry will miss time with the club to fulfill his analyst duties.
“I would find it very unlikely that he’ll miss a Red Bull game to be on TV during the World Cup,” Petke said. “I would find that hard to believe.”
How will the Red Bulls fare without a few key players? Does Petke have reason to complain about scheduling? Who is more likely to succeed this season: the Red Bulls or Timbers?
Share your thoughts below.