photo by Danissa Alvarado/Soccer By Ives
By FRANCO PANIZO
From Mike Petke and Thierry Henry’s heated exchange in practice to the dramatic come-from-behind win over Real Salt Lake, many moments have been discussed as the turning point in the New York Red Bulls’ Supporters’ Shield-winning season.
One such moment that multiple Red Bulls players mentioned after Sunday: last month’s draw in Seattle.
The 1-1 tie at CenturyLink Field on Sept. 29 came up on a few occasions during the Red Bulls players’ interviews following the 5-2 home victory over the Chicago that gave New York the first piece of hardware in its 18 years of existence, and the main reason why was because of how much confidence it instilled in the club.
The Red Bulls entered that road game with a depleted roster (starters Thierry Henry, Jamison Olave and Bradley Wright-Phillips had all been ruled out) and few gave them and rookie head coach Mike Petke a chance against an in-form Sounders team that looked as good a bet as any to finish atop the overall league standings. But New York was full of self-belief and valiantly managed to grab a point out of the match, keeping its undefeated run going and beginning the Sounders’ surprising free fall.
“Seattle was the gamebreaker,” said midfielder Tim Cahill, who scored the equalizer in the second half of that rainy game in Seattle. “We destroyed their season and their belief and teams went there knowing that they can get results off them at their place and we just went onto bigger and better things because (we were) fearless.”
Midfielder Lloyd Sam added to that sentiment when asked about Cahill’s heroic performances this year, saying that the result vs. the Sounders indeed helped to set the tone for the Red Bulls late-season run and Seattle’s winless skid at the end of the campaign.
“Could you imagine if we didn’t draw that game? Seattle might have gone on and gotten three points,” said Sam. “Then their wheels fell off after that in the race for the Supporters’ Shield.”
No, that draw against the Sounders may not have been as vital as the dust-up between Petke and Henry that has spurred the Red Bulls to their current eight-game unbeaten streak. But it was a key moment for the club and one that should not be forgotten as they try and make a push for their first MLS Cup trophy.
Here are more notes from Red Bulls camp:
HENRY CREDITS SUCCESS TO TEAM EFFORT
Thierry Henry was sitting in his locker, fielding questions from the dozens of media members on Sunday when he was inevitably asked what was the biggest difference between the 2013 Red Bulls that ended the trophy-less drought and ones of years past.
Henry’s answer? The team finally got contributions from everybody.
“Everyone had to step up at one point and we did that,” said Henry. “(Jamison) Olave was scoring goals at the very beginning and you were like, ‘What?’, and then suddenly I started to score a bit and then Lloyd came at the end and Tim finished the season in an amazing way. Luis (Robles’ performances), forget about it.
“The team performed, and I’m not having a go at anybody, but last year for example if Kenny Cooper didn’t score or I didn’t score then it would have been game over. The years before, if Luke Rodgers or me are not scoring then it would’ve been over. Sometimes I can have an off day and Tim is taking control of the game or Lloyd in Kansas City or Dax (McCarty) scoring the winner against Salt Lake.
“The team performed this year as a team.”
ROBLES REMINISCES, BECOMES EVEN MORE GRATEFUL TO RED BULLS
A few hours before kickoff on Sunday, Luis Robles sat in his car with his wife reflecting on his career. He remembered the trying times in Germany and how he thought his career was over in 2012 before New York signed him as a cheap midseason acquisition.
All of that made him even more grateful than he already was to the club, and he proceeded to enjoying a sturdy outing in what he knew was his 40th game as a member of the Red Bulls.
“Fifteen months ago, I really thought I was done and I thought I was okay with moving on and it just didn’t seem like there was any light at the end of the tunnel,” said Robles, the only Red Bulls player to start every game this year. “For the New York Red Bulls to take a chance on me and to continue to support me and encourage me during the process, I’m floored, I’m humbled, I’m grateful and I’m just really thankful for everything that’s worked out the way it has.”
- To help alleviate some of the pressure that the club had been facing in recent weeks, sporting director Andy Roxburgh implemented a “Fun Rule” in training. Essentially, the Red Bulls were divided into three age-based teams that took part in some light-hearted rounds of penalty kicks or keep-up games at the end of practices. The three teams were Diaper Dandies, comprised of the youngsters on the club; Middle Age Crisis, which included a number of veterans; and AARP, which was made up of the elder statesmen like Robles, assistant coach Robin Frasier and captained by Petke. AARP (surprisingly) won last week’s tournament.
- Roxburgh told SBI late last week that the Red Bulls are likely to return to Florida next year for preseason preparations. Roxburgh said the Sunshine State might be the only destination on team’s preseason tour and mentioned Orlando, which seems to indicate that New York is in discussions to take part in the annual Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic. The Red Bulls have not taken part in that annual tournament since the inaugural edition back in 2010, which they won.
Agree that the Sounders game was a key moment in the Red Bulls’ regular season? Which performance from a complimentary player do you remember most from this year? How impressed have you been by Robles?
Share your thoughts below.
If the haters actually followed the team and knew the players they would find this is not an arrogant bunch but a team that all pull for each other . Calling Cahill arrogant is just laughable. I am not sure if I agree the Seattle game was the key. It was a great result but for my money it is still when Petke and Henry had their dust up.
Petke came of age by showing he was a leader and Henry deserves credit as well for taking his medine like the pro he is and leading by example. The team showed their character by not breaking into camps and by uniting as a group
Hopefully this will end with the MLS cup but the season has been a success regardless
why does everyone always hate on NY??? what have we done to deserve this???
So I guess the approach has to be:
(1) If RBNY fails or struggles, make fun of them.
(2) If RBNY succeeds, minimize their accomplishment.
Congrats to the Red Bulls. When they announced Petke as coach, I did not give them much hope. Yet, it seems he has done what no other coach has been able to do up to this point, give them a team identity along with the Supporters Shield. I was waiting for their season ending implosion. It did not happen. They seemed to get stronger.
What Caleb Porter did in Portland is impressive. What Mike Petke accomplished in New York was the impossible. I think Petke should get coach of the year.
It won’t happen. Porter is going to get it. Quote me that.
If I recall correctly, shouldn’t NY’s goal in Seattle have not counted?
Man, people just can’t bring themselves to give NY any credit. No, there was nothing wrong with Cahill’s equalizer.
As a fan of the league in general, and no particular team, I think it’s great NY finally won something. It’s good for the league when clubs that invest wisely in their teams (whether it’s players, coaches, facilities, development academies, etc) succeed. It forces other teams to reevaluate their clubs and act accordingly.
A lot of hate going around. This was a great MLS season all around, except perhaps for DC, Toronto, and Chivas. Tons of good stories, very nice player acquisitions, and a strong core of MLS players contributing on the international stage.
As an aside, Luis Robles may be the most eloquent, well-spoken player in MLS. He has been an excellent keeper this year and he conveys an aura of true humility.
Seriously why so much negativity in these comment sections about my Red Bulls? The playoffs are about to begin with some mouth watering matchups and a team just got its first piece of silverware in their 18 year existence. Let’s all enjoy our league!
I’m happy for the Red Bulls and their Trophy, It’s good to see them win something but remember only two winners of the Supporter’s Shield in the last ten years have gone on to win the MLS Cup. I wouldn’t get too excited yet.
Oh the butthurt…RBNY getting hated on the way the rest of the country hates other NY Professional level teams after they get a trophy. This week is getting more and more exciting.
I hate to break this to you NY, but Seattle is not that good. Very few playoff team wins.
Your turning point was playing in the East.
They were playing really well at the time although obviously not since. They have as much talent on paper as anyone. Maybe with a full preseason together they can put it all together next year. Plus, anything can happen in the playoffs so I wouldn’t write them off this season yet either.
I’m not a fan but I think Seattle is a very good team (in this league), I think they are a good bet to Win the cup especially now Deuce has that first goal.
Hindsight. At the time everyone thought Seattle looked unstoppable.
trash talk aside…
I think it’s interesting how delicate a balance there is in creating and effective team by managing strong individuals. Henry needed to be put in check, but it only worked because other strong individuals (like Cahill and Petke) could back that kind of move up by filling the space with elevated performances. Also, by “weakening” Henry’s position, he’s become a more effective player and teammate.
Funny ol’ world.
“We destroyed their season and their belief and teams went there knowing that they can get results off them at their place and we just went onto bigger and better things because (we were) fearless.”
What a bunch of arrogant nonsense, Cahill has set himself and his team up for a first round loss talking like that, what a knucklehead. Like the rest of the league owes the Red Bulls! Seriously?
You mad though?
It sounds like he’s mad..
Yeah, he’s mad.
AWWW.. POOR BABY ..
Actually, it’s very easy to give anything you read a tone or an emotion, w/o really knowing how it was said or meant. So can see how anyone could assume arrogance. But if you listen to the post game interviews he had, dude is as humble and gracious as they come, even going so far as to congratulate KC and Portland on how impressive their teams are, what fantastic seasons they had, and how any of them could have just as well won it. Sounders fans should take the comment as a compliment that after tieing there, they believed they could compete with anyone, even below full strength. They wouldn’t have gained that confidence drawing vs a Chivas or DC. To gain that, they had to compete vs the best, which Seattle were at the time. Cheers.
Bet money my team has more points than yours does.
You know your season sucks when a tie against Seattle is considered a good result.
You know your season doesn’t suck when you have the best record in the league at the end of the season.
In real football terms, NY already won the league.. But that’s in real football.. Now to appease the NFL/MLL/NBA/WNBA crowd, we’ll get that cup too.
the soccer is the NFL crowd doesn’t seem to understand that winning the league means you have the most points at the end of the season.
Take it easy…in real football terms its not the same because the schedule was not balanced meaning that everyone did NOT play everyone else at home and away.