BY DAVE MARTINEZ
If anyone knows a thing or two about losing your head in the heat of a match, it’s New York Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke.
Is it any surprise, then, that he feels a little compassion for Juninho? The 38-year-old playmaker lost his cool in the waning minutes of last Wednesday’s 1-0 defeat to Sporting Kansas City, kicking a dead ball in the penalty area at goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen.
The infraction earned Juninho a red card, but MLS saw fit to expand his punishment with an extra game and an undisclosed fine late on Monday, a decision Petke was not entirely thrilled about for a number of reasons.
“I understand Juninho, you know? I understand what happened,” Petke told reporters during his Tuesday conference call. “Mr. Nielsen obviously doesn’t keep it a secret that he can milk the clock with the best of them and I take my hat off to him for that, to be honest with you. He’s a seasoned vet and he knows how to work the system a little bit.”
“The funny thing to me is that Juninho is 15 yards away and toe-pokes the ball at a goalkeeper, a professional goalkeeper, and he hits him in the face or whatever and he goes down like a rock. Again, that’s his gamesmanship in a way.”
While Petke understands the need for the initial red card, the added penalty handed out by the league’s Disciplinary Committee left the Red Bulls coach scratching his head.
“I personally thought one would be enough,” said Petke. “If he had blasted it as hard as he could and hit him, then I’d understand that. But to essentially toe-poke the ball back to get the game going because he’s been wasting time, and for him to go down like that? Hey, he fooled everybody, so I guess that’s where the two games come from.”
Juninho will serve the second game of his suspension during this weekend’s Toronto FC match and will not be available until May 5th against the Columbus Crew.
NEWS AND NOTES
- – On Kevin Hartman: “Hartman is still coming along, still working hard, (but) not exactly there yet.” The soon to be 39 year old keeper was acquired by New York last month in order to shore up their depth at keeper. He also serves as a Goalkeeping Development Manager, tasked with coaching the young keepers on the roster and in the team’s academy program.
– On Ryan Meara’s improving health: “Ryan is making strides. He is doing more everyday. He is looking better and sharper everyday and I think he’s not very far off being back fully competitive.”
- – While the goalkeeper corps continues to nurse its way back to health, forward Peguy Luyindula is near ready to make a return for the Red Bulls as well. “He is definitely on course for selection against Toronto,” said Petke. “If we felt we desperately needed him for New England, he would have been available on the bench but we felt comfortable in that situation that we could do without him. (It) gives him extra time to get fitness, to continue the healing process and I believe starting (Wednesday), he will be in, if not full training, at least three quarters. He is pretty much there.”
He was actually playing pretty well in that game… so much for trying to maintain momentum.
Juninho has been a horrible disappointment so far. The midfield actually looks better without him and for a guy with his pedigree to pull a dumb stunt like that last week is just unacceptable. This is a guy who captains every team he’s on and wins everywhere he goes… until he his the Metrobulls and start acting like a total buffoon? Is this franchise cursed or what?
What you don’t think the team is playing better with him,,
Midfielders is passing the ball much better ,,
Disagree you see
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Juninho will take off when he’s back, scoring at will. Jimmy Nielsen — the Guy Fieri of soccer — is a douche, and his season will sink like a stone.
This is retarded.
In a way.
I just want his hair, so jealous.
Is Juninho a DP? If he is, he certainly isn’t worth it. Same with Cahill. I can’t believe how mush he’s dropped off since he left Everton. Very disappointing.
He s not a dp
So, if he’s not injured, he’s suspended?
I’ve got good news and bad news for you Petke: Juninho is very accurate in dead ball situations.
I never want to hear a Red Bull manager say “in a way” again.
Petke needs to start playing cynical soccer, in a way.
You can fire Backe, but Backe is so Metro.
Mike is a master of the longislandese dialect. But yeah sometimes I cringe when I hear him speak.
What did Hartman do?
Juninho toe poked the ball back at Hartman out of frustration and instead of just catching it, Hartman left his hands down and the ball hit his shoulder. He then flung himself to the ground and starting writhing around holding his face, rolling back and forth on the ground.
It was utterly pathetic.
Thank you for the explanation, but I think the keeper you’re looking for is Jimmy Nielson. Although as an FCD fan I also miss Kevin Hartman.
Oh, haha. Yeah, you’re right. I am thinking of Nielsen.
If a recollect correctly in 2010 Hartman was struck by a ball kicked by Thierry Henry. An RBNY player had just scored and as part of the goal celebration, Henry blasted the ball into net and Hartman foolishly got in the way resulting in a knee injury for Hartman and a suspension for TH14.
Kevin Hartman hates you too.
Hard to not disagree with the suspension. They should add a suspension to Hartman for a flop and embellishment so bad that it ended up on ESPN’s Around the Horn as a topic of discussion.
…Neilsen, not Hartman, but I agree with you.
To me 1 game was enough for Juinho, he got a red already for the incident, no need to add games. MLS over reaching IMHO.
Twice I’ve called him Hartman. That second story above about Dallas is messing with my head.
the irony of course is that Neisen replaced Hartman in KC..
Why is is such a big deal that Nielsen flopped around. Field players do it all the time and nobody cares. The point is Juninho went out of his way to be an idiot and deserved a suspension.
I just hate floppers. Especially when it’s obvious.
The league needs to but Jimmy Nielsen and KC on notice for their antics. I guess they are trying to pull in the slack where Kamara left off.
Not real sure SKC does it any more than any other team in the league