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The tales are tumbling out of Red Bull Arena now

Feb 12, 2013, 11:45 AM EDT

Tottenham Hotspur v  New York Red Bulls Getty Images

At some point last year a few soccer journos were sitting around, talking over a soda pop or two. It’s what we do best; you gotta play to your strengths.

The subject wheel finally landed on the New York Red Bulls and someone (sorry I can’t remember who … proper credit and all) said, “Oh, the stories are there, and they’ll all start coming out soon enough.”

That day has apparently arrived.

During Red Bulls media day Monday in Harrison, former manager Hans Backe and (more than likely) Rafa Marquez became the favorite punching bags as guys like Thierry Henry, Tim Cahill (pictured) and Heath Pearce began pulling back the curtain on why such a fabulously talented team never found its potential, hovering habitually between “average” and “just above average.”

Backe was, let’s say, a “less respected” figure inside the locker room. (In fairness, it is impossible to know who was making some of the high-profile decisions, Backe or someone above him.)

Said defender Heath Pearce, who was advocating new manager Mike Petke, but saying a lot in his comparison:

If guys can jog around training and get away with it, then what’s going to happen in the games where you need guys in the 90th minute to make plays? From the ground level up, accountability is going to be a major factor for us. Them enabling us to hold each other to that level, with (the coaching staff’s) support, is going to be a big thing for us.”

Advocacy for Petke was a big theme. The players love his dedication the job and the organization. Again, you wonder is that’s more about Petke or more about the previous regime?

And then this: Credit to Cahill, who hasn’t been in the United States for a full year, for already figuring out what inexplicably escapes so very many men in MLS corner offices: that American coaches have a better opportunity to grasp the peculiarities and vagaries unique to MLS. I’ve been banging that drum for years.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see what happened last season. It seemed very open and messy. There was no stability, whereas now there’s stability. There’s Petke.”

Said Cahill of the search that wandered first in Europe – and where serendipity may have ultimately intervened, saving the Red Bulls from themselves when the chosen coaching accent couldn’t come to terms or couldn’t get a visa or whatever:

I just kept hearing names about European coaches. It’s hard to bring in European coaches that understand the league and the structure … what’s going to be best to build a team.”

There’s even more in the piece from Brian Straus linked above, including some shots at Dwayne De Rosario, who was even more to the point in assessing his brief run at Red Bull Arena.

  1. charliej11 - Feb 12, 2013 at 12:26 PM

    Steve, what do you think the biggest hinerance to foreign coaches is:
    Parity ? Lack of respect for US Players ? MLS style of play ?

    • Steve Davis - Feb 12, 2013 at 12:38 PM

      It’s more about not being familiar with the (rather unique) structure of league mechanics. For instance, the player acquisition mechanisms. They are behind (or completely lost) on scouting the draft, on managing the salary cap, on the inability or difficulty of releasing or adding players. Plus, not being familiar with other league vagaries, like the taxing summer heat and travel and how to structure training to better manage it. And then, of course, dealing with America athletes and their tendencies. Some combo of all that and more.

    • hatter69 - Feb 12, 2013 at 12:47 PM

      It’s a different game. The Premiership is physical, La Liga is technical, Serie A is defensive. The MLS doesn’t really have any one identifying style. You can’t just stick three big lumps in the spine of the team as in England. You can’t bring in dozens of players born with a ball attached to their foot as in Spain, or park the bus as in Italy. In Europe managers are too set in their ways to adapt, see Arsene Wenger. At the same time, if you hear of an emerging young talent at 8 years old you sign them up and move the family. If you see a kid in a youth league, you just buy their contract. There is no draft or home grown rule. There is no allocation, DP or wage cap.

      Imagine Man Utd in the MLS with their structure. Scholes, Beckham, Nevilles etc. wouldn’t come through their set up. They couldn’t just buy a young Rooney, throw £30m at Ferdinand or take Van Persie on the cheap because his contract is nearly up.

      • orbmech - Feb 12, 2013 at 1:20 PM

        Brings up an interesting topic of conversation – which EPL, Serie A, La Liga, etc. coach would do the best under the MLS set up with the salary cap and so forth. Would Sir Alex have the same winning record, would the Special One still be special?

  2. arjanroghanchi - Feb 12, 2013 at 1:23 PM

    no mention of the quotes from Titi that are pretty much a ringing endorsement of Petke’s appointment as coach. You guys crushed Henry after the original announcement was made. To whit:

    • wesbadia - Feb 12, 2013 at 2:35 PM

      To be exact, no one “crushed” Henry here. They (myself included) brought up a very valid point that there is a potential for personality conflicts between someone like Henry and Petke. We spoke our concerns and made them known; the whole point of a blog like PST. If Henry is endorsing Petke, then so be it. I’d rather see that, actually, because it means more competition in the league if NY actually gels this year under the new coach.

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