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.