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Red Bulls’ Juninho to miss Earthquakes match

Juninho v New England Revolution


Two major issues cursed the Red Bulls during the 2012 season; their propensity to give up the early goal and their inability to escape injuries.

One of those issues has been left behind in preseason, while the other has made it’s presence known just one game into the season.

Brazilian midfielder Juninho, New York’s 38 year old offseason acquisition, was held out of Thursday’s training due to a calf strain in his left leg. Worse yet, it looks like he won’t be taking the field when New York travels out to San Jose to face the Earthquakes.

“He’s likely going to be out this weekend,” Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke revealed. “It’s a situation that is being evaluated right now.”

Labeling the injury a “little issue with his calf,” the rookie head coach was made aware of the issue prior to Wednesday’s full practice. There, Juninho was limited to warm-ups and left off the team’s major assignments. “No final decision has been made yet,” warned Petke, “but I may be leaning towards (sitting him for San Jose).”

In over 20 years as a professional, Sunday marked Juninho’s first official game on turf. “Maybe that contributed to it,” Petke conceded, “but I think a lot of travel, the cold weather. It didn’t seem too serious yesterday, he just took a step in practice. It was very cold out obviously, soft field and he checked out and we are going to hold him out most likely for the game.”

If anyone knows the struggles associated with turf play, it is team captain Thierry Henry. When asked about turf affecting Juninho’s play, Henry let out a sympathetic chuckle. Prior to the match, Juninho turned to Henry for some advice on how to handle those conditions.

“What I told him was ‘all the very best!’ That was my advice for him,” Henry deadpanned. “We’ll see if he is going to be able to travel to San Jose but my advice wasn’t good enough I guess.”

“He only played one game with us,” he continued. “You know how important he is for us in the middle. When I first arrived in the league, you have to deal with all the stuff I mentioned before and he is going to have to go through that. Unfortunately for us, with the way we travelled to Portland playing on turf.”

Looking for a silver lining, Petke pointed towards the benefits a bit of rest can give Juninho, particularly as the team looks past San Jose for their much anticpated home opener against DC United.

“We don’t know the extent of it but my thought process is another West coast trip, if there is any issue whatsoever, I would rather have him 100% and rested for the opener at home,” Petke concluded. “He worked his ass off against Portland, he has been working his ass off in training and preseason. It’s a situation, travel so much in this league, two west coast trips and we knew not just with him but with certain players, that’s why it was important to get depth this year because we know we are going to have to rest certain players here and there and I am taking it as a resting thing. I don’t see it as a long term thing.”



    Juninho and Cahill play the same position so this will allow Petke to not feel forced to play them both.

  2. Why are the professional players using cleats on turf? Use turf shoes. Many problems solved.

    I say this because after watching 1 game on turf, I got my kid turf shoes. Really. They have soccer turf shoes that are very good.

    • The sales pitch when fieldturf came in to replace astroturf as traditionally understood was that it was like grass and you could use moldeds. My personal experience was that moldeds stuck too well but you couldn’t play with flat tread shoes either. Something with a little cleat to it, or a running shoe.

      • You can wear whatever shoes you want if you score….

        My all time favorite indoor goal was a driven upper 90 job a la Rafael the other week, that literally wedged stuck in the top corner of the cage. Did that wearing running shoes. Never repeated since in all manner of soccer-specific indoor gear.

        I’m a big believer in having just the right amount of stick, in part because I think I blew out my knee because the modern, baseball style Puma cleats I was wearing just stuck in the grass and had no slide. You can get hurt for either too much or too little grip, IMO.

        But I think Juninho has more to do with being out of shape, in cold weather, on a surface that you will feel in your calves. When I’ve had or seen this kind of thing it’s usually someone who’s out of shape or has had an involuntary break due to an unrelated injury. You come back out and either the calf or the hammy bites you. And the thing with older players in a younger man’s league is you’re going to have to keep up with the speed of play, and if you can’t get past the fitness threshold enough to explode without pulling a muscle, it’s going to be a long season. Ching has the same recurring problems. If it’s not the knee it’s the hammy or something else. With the recurring problems it’s hard to stay fit to avoid the next ding. You have to sit to heal the last one which sets up the next. This does not bode well for Juninho.

        I think the teams should be chasing players more like Henry, who are physical specimens who take care of themselves well. The shelf life on older finesse players in our league today does not seem to be long, even if you’re a Schelotto or Djorkaeff that has a good year or two.

    • Depends on the quality of the surface beneath the turf…grant wahl did a survey of mls players…apparently one of the description of held-wen was that it felt like there was concrete underneath…..the meadowlands was turf too (pre red bull arena), ppl didn’t hate the quality of the turf, just the fact that it was not natural grass….

      • I’ve played on quite a few different turf fields and really not a fan. They’re better than some of the cow pastures I was forced to play on as a kid but a professional club should be able to maintain a good grass field. Turf is hard, the ball bounces differently on it, you get all that rubber stuff in your shoes, and it gives a good strawberry if you slide on it.

      • Can you quote Wahl on that? It never stated that.

        There is a $1 million E-layer under that turf before you get to concrete. Meant to soften the field and extend its life.

    • I tend to believe that a player being hurt rather than sore goes more down to fitness than the pitch, however I firmly believe astroturf is bad for you long term. Ditto hard ground grass surfaces. That jolt goes through your joints week after week and gets you eventually. But if it gets you week one, you probably had something to do with it, too.

  3. Why does our league bring in players as old as him? Of course there is a high chance he is going to be injured half the time.

  4. buck shaw is a ridiculous venue, but it has to be one of the top pitches in the league. one thing the ownership hasnt skimped on for sure- looks like a giant putting green up close.

  5. Seems like a no brainer to rest your 35+ players on cross-country outings on turf, no?

    NYRB turf team/sit back & counter, repeat:

    Espindola Martinez

    Miller McCarty Alexander Lade

    Pearce Holgersson Olave Kimura


  6. This also explains why Henry was running around so gingerly. He feared what the turf could do to him too. Not an excuse, same for all players, etc., etc., but if it’s true that Juninho had never before played an official game on artificial turf, then it’s hardly surprising. Reason # 6,873 for hating plastic grass.

  7. Red bulls should have stayed in the west coast, just like nfl teams do it when they have games in the east or west in a row. The players are getting paid and are “profesionals” so why not make your team stay. Another thing, galaxy and red bulls have one dp spot open, who will get kaka, since all other MLS teams don’t open their wallets, besides sounders that are barely going to spend big on their Dps. Lampard looks like hes not coming, ronaldinho might come after worldcup 2014 but what team. Oh and after world cup 2014, soccer veterans like casillas and sneijder will be looking for a team, maybe MLS can raise the DP number to 4, have orlando and cosmos in the league already in order to attract those talented experienced Dps, that can still play. So if powerful markets like, seattle,vancouver,portland,montreal,toronto,chicago,dc,philly,dallas,houston, chivas usa, colorado open their wallets next year after world cup 2014, that would raise the league’s field level.

  8. Old and/or injury prone players don’t generally do well in MLS. When are the Red Bulls finally going to realize this?

  9. I know the difficulties of maintaining real grass, but turf sucks and the game was not designed to play on the crap. It’s horrible to see the game changed because of it.

    • I just don’t see how a professional sports club can’t keep a decent grass field that gets played on once only a week. Just baffles me. There are professionals in this area who can surely do this job for them. Can anyone elaborate as to why they would take turf over grass? please don’t say money

      • MONEY. Sorry but it’s the only reason. Please don’t say it’s the rain in the Northwest; it does rain in the UK, Europe, South America, etc.and look at those fields.

  10. Already missing games. Probably foreshadowing for how his season will turn out. The travel in MLS is unreal compared to other leagues. People underestimate it

    • I think this is really overrated. You know these guys don’t walk to away matches right? A plane takes them there. Come on with this nonsense. Plus if the travel was such a big deal why not just stay on the west coast for the week instead of flying cross country two extra times?

      • We’re not just saying it…foreign players who have experienced the travel in MLS have said it (see: Thierry Henry, David Beckham). YOU are going to tell THEM? Yeah, ok.

        As for your second question, you should keep up with past articles. Petke articulated why.

    • Dude, when I started pulling calves playing soccer it was from being old and out of shape, you’re giving him too much credit. It’s a “I’m barely fit enough to be out there” injury, IMO, with the risk probably upped by it being cold and thus harder to get loose.


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