…I’M CRAIG HUTCHINSON: AN EVENTFUL WEEK IN THE WORLD OF RED BULL NEW YORK

NewYorkRedBulls.com Correspondent Craig Hutchinson continues his regular column on RedBullsReader.com today with a look back at an eventful week for the club.  He gives his take on the win over TFC, the impact callups will have on the match with RSL, and the announcement made by Mike Petke.  If you have a question or comment for Craig, share your thoughts in the comments section.

It’s been a busy week for the Red Bulls; Another solid victory over a playoff contender, another road game to an undefeated home team coming up, an international midfielder who chooses club over country and the announced future retirement of a New York legend.

Let’s look at these things in order.

Last week I wondered what the possible encore for the team might provide after their 4-1 demolition of Toronto on the road. The answer was an unchanged lineup, a similar performance, and a solid 2-0 win. It wasn’t all plain sailing efficiency, ex-MetroStars forward Cornell Glen was guilty of missing several decent chances for the Earthquakes in front of goal, while the Red Bulls themselves had other chances which fell by the wayside. Juan Pablo Angel perhaps the guiltiest, side footing a rebound against the post with nearly the whole goal to aim for.

It was pleasing to see a couple of season firsts with the goals. Dane Richards told me after his cracking goal in the Manchester City game he couldn’t figure out why he scores in friendlies but can’t seem to do it in the league. Against San Jose he finally managed it for the first time this season and it was worth the wait; receiving a header from Joel Lindpere he passed one defender, knocked it past another on the top of the box then casually rounded the ‘keeper to roll the ball into the empty net. A fitting goal by a man, who by his own admission, is in some of the best form of his career. The second goal was one of the most anticipated of the season, Thierry Henry’s first goal in Major League Soccer. He’s come so close to it on numerous occasions, even in this game he hit the post in the first half, had an audacious back-heeled volley and a regular volley saved in the second. When the goal arrived it was due partly to Dane Richards who tore down the right hand side and delivered the ball to the danger area in the middle, partly due to Thierry’s outstanding first touch and drilled half-volleyed finish and partly to the Earthquakes who allowed Henry some much time and space in the box (you’d think Frank Yallop would have spoke to his defenders before the game and said something like “they’ve got this guy who wears number 14, scouting reports say he’s quite good, make sure you keep a close eye on him”.)

It was well spoke of two weeks ago that Toronto had a long unbeaten home streak until the visit of New York. The team that has the longest home unbeaten streak is Real Salt Lake (21 games), the team the Red Bulls must travel to this weekend. They must do so without four international players who were called up by their country; Bouna Coundoul, Roy Miller, Dane Richards and Rafa Marquez. For most teams, losing players of this caliber and form would leave huge holes in the side, but one thing the Red Bulls have shown this season is that they have depth in their squad. Sutton and Borman are the logical replacements for Bouna and Miller, both of which have had some outstanding contributions to the team this year. For replacements in midfield, you can choose any two of Stammler, Robinson, Ubiparipovic or Kandji; four players that would be sure fire starters on most teams in the league.

The team could have had one further loss this week in the form of midfielder Joel Lindpere who was selected to represent his nation of Estonia only for him to decline the invitation. Club verses country arguments have gone on in many countries in different sports; do you represent your club, who you play for week after week and who pays your salary, or do you opt for the honor of representing your country. It’s a difficult decision for many and as much as Joel loves his country, he has decided to show his loyalty to his club team, much to the delight of Red Bull fans and dismay of Estonian fans. While most other leagues have a break in their schedule during international competitions reducing the chance of conflict, MLS does not. Commissioner Don Garber cited that skipping whole weekends of league action would cost the league in valuable revenue streams, which is understandable. But if the league is to take that next step and continuously look to recruit top talent from oversees, Mr. Garber may have to revisit this policy.

Finally, as most of you are now aware, central defender Mike Petke announced this week that he will be retiring from professional football at the end of the season. Since then, many accolades have already been posted by fans on various websites paying tribute to Mike Petke and his service to the New York franchise. Tributes well deserving giving his list of achievements with the team; Franchise leader in games started, games, minutes and was also named to the team’s All-time Best XI announced this year. Mike himself cited the main reason being that he does not feel his body is physically and mentally capable of playing up to the required standard of this league any more. As you will probably remember, Mike was the starting CD for the first half of the season before being dropped for Carlos Mendes in the game against Chivas. At the time Hans Backe said it was to rest Petke’s legs after playing two games in a week, but there was also a dip in form leading up to that. Petke’s effort, attitude and ability to win a ball from an opponent remains as strong as ever, but his declining ability to track runs off the ball were beginning to become an issue and a few goals were conceded at the time as a direct result. Long time New York fans will remember the bleached blonde rookie, his “Crime of the Century – Revenge is Coming” t-shirt and grimace at the fact he was traded to arch rival DC where he won a title. But the Bohemia, NY native is back where he belongs in New York to end his career on his own terms. Personally I wish Mike the best in the future endeavors; he has a fun and engaging personality so it would be good for both Mike and the club if he stayed on in some capacity, but that’s for the future, he’s not gone yet and we still have the rest of the season to finish. I can’t think of a more fitting finish to his career than to end it at the club he began it with and with a new championship ring on his finger.

If that scenario is to play out, the next step towards it is in Sandy, Utah this coming Saturday.

Until next time, I’m Craig Hutchinson…

Craig hails from the town of Barnsley in South Yorkshire, England and gained a BA honors degree in Sports Studies and Physical Education at the University of York St. John, North Yorkshire, England. After graduation, he worked for five years as a professional youth soccer coach throughout the United States. He joined the New York Red Bulls in 2008 as a coach in the youth Training Programs and Regional Development Schools. He became the team’s video broadcaster at the beginning of the 2010 season.  Craig’s opinions do not necessarily reflect those of RedBullsReader or the New York Red Bulls.

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2 Responses to “…I’M CRAIG HUTCHINSON: AN EVENTFUL WEEK IN THE WORLD OF RED BULL NEW YORK”

  1. theredbullscritic Says:

    A good, honest piece Craig…Mike was slipping a bit at the end of that initial run but let’s not forget that introduced Ream to the league and I don’t think Ream could have asked for a better ambassador. Petke said it best when he said the younger player like me a little better right now. He demanded 150% from whomever he played with and I think that has rubbed off a bit on Ream:

    http://theredbullcritic.wordpress.com/2010/09/02/petke-great-career-critical-role-in-opening-this-campaign/

  2. irishapple21 Says:

    Mike Petke is a living legend of NY soccer. It’s awesome that he’ll finish his playing career in his hometown uniform. He’s a fan favorite because he’s a terrific guy who did wonderful things for this club.

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