By RYAN TOLMICH
HARRISON, N.J. — Just 24 hours after midfielder Tim Cahill reiterated his commitment to his national team, the Australian forward found himself on the bench as his side kicked off a crucial matchup with the Houston Dynamo.
Despite all of the interpretations that could potentially surround Cahill’s initial absence, head coach Mike Petke stated that any conspiracy theories regarding the Australian’s benching were “both ridiculous and laughable”.
Cahill was eventually introduced into the game in the 85th minute before receiving a straight red card just three minutes later for a tackle on the Dynamo’s Boniek Garcia. Regardless, Petke insisted that, despite the recent headlines, Cahill, who will miss the next two games due to his Australian commitments and suspension, started on the sidelines due to gameplay reasons.
“The only thing I’ll say is that the last 24 hours have been very interesting,” Petke said. “To suggest that a player was not in the lineup because of an international call-up is both ridiculous and laughable. We have four games left, three now, that are huge.
“The steam that this picked up in the last 24 hours has been, to me, ridiculous. I put the selection process, as the coach, which, last time I checked, I make the decisions and I’m allowed to make the decisions, the selection process for tonight’s game went as this: I want to put the eleven players out that I thought would get us a result and we got the result.”
Petke went on to reiterate that he and everyone else at the the club takes pride in all of their international stars.
“To suggest that we would leave a player that we thought could help us out because he’s going to the national team, we’re proud of him,” Petke said. “We’re proud of Roy (Miller), we’re proud of (Ambroise) Oyongo going to the national team. They represent their country and they represent their club.
“It’s become a big story, but it’s not. It’s not a big story… The story tonight is a 1-0 win.”