Anybody worried about New York and Mike Petke? Because you shouldn’t be

1 Comment

I don’t know about you, but I personally like to store up my “worry points” and employ them judiciously.

If I am a New York Red Bulls supporter, I am certainly not raising my favorite microbrew and toasting this concerning start, one that has seen Mike Petke’s team go winless in its first four matches, collecting just two of a possible 12 points along the way.

On the other hand, no one should pull the panic lever just yet. Here’s why:

Reason No. 1: The Red Bulls opening schedule was always a tough one – and it got tougher because Montreal quickly established itself as holders of shockingly high quality. (The Red Bulls fell in Montreal on Saturday, 1-0.) Just those opening two matches alone, back-to-back cross country trips to the West Coast, would be enough to potentially scar most teams.

So, anyone who expected gangbusters to launch 2013 probably wasn’t looking at things realistically.

Reason No. 2: The Red Bulls have performed quite well in spurts. In fact, they’ve been better than the other guys in big stretches.

Petke’s men had moments to be proud of in opening the season with a 3-3 draw in Portland. Considering the apparent improvement to Caleb Porter’s Timbers this year, most MLS teams would take that result out of the Jeld-Wen Field cauldron.

They did OK in a subsequent match in San Jose, although the side threw it all into the San Francisco Bay with 10 mad minutes of self-destruction at the end (most of which was Roy Miller meltdown-related).

Reason No. 3: A week after that, the Red Bulls were dominant against visiting D.C. United but quite unlucky not to get all three points. On some other day, with just a little more lean of good fortune their way, that home-opening scoreless draw would have been a 2-0 or 3-0 Red Bulls’ win. Petke had the team where he wanted it that day in Harrison; things just didn’t fall right.

Reason No. 4: We already talked about Montreal’s surprising quality, so Saturday’s 1-0 loss in Quebec shouldn’t concern a Big Apple soul. Especially since the Red Bulls blew several scoring chances, opportunities the injured Thierry Henry may have handled quite differently.

If Petke can hold the line and not panic, just keep on keepin’ on, as they say, he’ll be fine.

He won’t be perfect as a young manager. He’s the first to say so, telling me just that and more down in Arizona six weeks ago.

But he has the players’ respect, and that goes a long way. We are four rounds into a long, long MLS season. The Red Bulls rookie head coach still has something to prove, obviously, but there’s nothing at this point to suggest he can’t get hold of this thing.

New York Red Bulls ink goalkeeper Luis Robles to new deal

Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images
1 Comment

The “Iron Man” will keep up his amazing journey with the New York Red Bulls, after signing a new deal with the club on Wednesday.

[ MORE: Wesley Sneijder on verge of joining Los Angeles FC ]

Goalkeeper Luis Robles has extended his contract with the reigning Eastern Conference champions, as the American continues to raise his consecutive starts streak, which stands at 157.

The terms of the deal were not disclosed in the club’s release.

Robles joined the Red Bulls back in 2012 after playing in Germany, and the shot-stopper hasn’t missed a start ever since.

Report: Minnesota United adds Hearts midfielder Sam Nicholson

Twitter/@WallofSport
Leave a comment

Minnesota United has had its shares of ups and down in its debut MLS season, but the Loons are on the verge making an exciting young signing.

[ MORE: Wesley Sneijder closing in on Los Angeles FC move ]

ESPN FC is reporting that Minnesota will sign Hearts winger Sam Nicholson from the Scottish Premier League on a deal that makes him a Loon until 2019.

The young attacker is expected to join the MLS side when the summer transfer window opens on July 10.

Nicholson, 22, has played with the Edinburgh side since his youth days, and made his senior debut with the club in 2013. During his time at Hearts, Nicholson scored 16 goals in all competitions for the team.

Last season, Nicholson missed 16 matches due to a significant knee injury.

According to the report, Scottish sides Rangers and Aberdeen were also among those interested in acquiring Nicholson, while English Championship clubs Bristol City and Barnsley also reached out about the attacker.

Premier League vet Scott Parker calls quits on playing career

Clive Rose/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Scott Parker has announced his retirement from soccer after a stellar 20-plus year career in England.

[ MORE: Chile bests Portugal on PKs to reach Confed Cup final ]

The 36-year-old spent almost the entirety of his career in the Premier League, and played with seven teams during his time on the pitch.

“I believe now is the right time to move on to the next chapter in my life and career,” Parker said in a statement.

“I feel incredibly honoured and proud to have enjoyed the career that I have and I’ve loved every moment of it.”

Parker began playing with Charlton after coming up through the team’s youth academy, before completing a move to Chelsea in 2004.

Throughout his career, Parker also spent time at Newcastle, West Ham and Tottenham, before finishing up at Fulham this past season.

Three storylines when Mexico meets Germany in Confed Cup semis

Buda Mendes/Getty Images
Leave a comment

With a place in the final on the line tomorrow afternoon, it’s all or nothing for Mexico and Germany as they meet in the second semifinal at this summer’s FIFA Confederations Cup.

The two nations have had very similar paths in reaching the final four, after both accumulated seven points during the group stage and showed signs of improvement with every match.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s FIFA Confederations Cup action ]

Here are some of the key battles to watch on Thursday when Mexico and Germany square off for a place in the final.

How does Germany’s youth hold up vs. Mexico’s experience?

Even when Jurgen Low released his roster heading into the Confederations Cup, much was expected of the Germans. After a strong run of play during the group stage, Low’s men have lived up to the billing with an exciting young attack and an improving backline to match.

When Germany meets Mexico though, the defending World Cup champions will be taking on an El Tri side that has loads of international experience, and similar to that of Chile, the Europeans will surely receive all that they can handle.

At the tender age of 23, Julian Draxler captains the Germans and has been challenged with leading his nation throughout the tournament. The PSG attacker has been quality thus far, but he and his side will take on a whole different task on Thursday against a quick, feisty Mexican group.

Will Hirving Lozano be the difference in the attack?

Injuries and a key suspension will certain hinder Mexico in the semifinal round, but the bigger question is: how will Juan Carlos Osorio’s side cope with the losses?

El Tri know it will be without winger Andres Guardado due to yellow card accumulation, while striker Javier Hernandez is in question ahead of the Germany clash after reportedly training by himself on Monday.

Although Hernandez likely just needed rest after a busy season of matches in the Bundesliga, Mexico is still seeking a quality playmaker to replace Guardado on Thursday, one that they’re hoping with be Hirving Lozano.

The newly-signed PSV man has quickly become one of the top young faces in global soccer, and with three international goals for El Tri dating back to 2016, Lozano is the spark that Mexico needs.

El Tri must start fast

In all three of Mexico’s group stage matches Osorio’s side fell behind during the first half. While El Tri managed to come away unscathed to remain perfect in group play, it’s difficult to imagine that they will be able to pull off the same feat against a quality German side.

On the other hand, Mexico’s resilience has been impressive. In their opener against Portugal, El Tri pulled off a late winner against the reigning European champions, a result that likely set the tone for the team’s ensuing comebacks versus New Zealand and Russia, respectively.