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We’re about to learn more about the Red Bulls, Mike Petke

Mar 11, 2013, 8:25 AM EDT

New England Revolution v New York Red Bulls – FC Tucson Desert Diamond Cup Getty Images

Each and every time a new manager lands in Major League Soccer, someone invariably asks me: “What do you think of this guy?”

And my answer is always the same. “We’ll see.”

It sounds like a lame-o cop-out, I know.  It’s not. It’s the only reasonable man’s response; I generally go on to explain:

The answers are always easy at first. Ideally, anyone worth his weight in practice jerseys understands how to rise and shine in theory.

At the introductory news conference, wisdom flows freely and the solutions reveal themselves like pretty spring flowers at the first warmth of March.

So, I say, “Let’s see what happens when the first real problems come a’ knockin’. Let’s see how he handles the first sticky-wicket locker room issue. Let’s see how he deals with injuries and let’s see if the pressure of the first losing streak – and it’s out there, somewhere – begins to chip away at the all the idealistic resolve.”

A manager’s job does not really start until the first problems come along. It’s how these guys deal with the wrecks, all the little fender benders and all the ugly pile-ups, too, that make them successes or failures in the coaching biz.

Well, Mike Petke is about to reveal himself a little. The New York Red Bulls rookie manager didn’t need long before wading knee deep into a muddy field.

(MORE: Highlights, as Red Bulls fall apart late against San Jose)

I’m not saying Petke can or cannot adjust, overcome and adapt. I’m just saying, “We’ll see.”

For the second consecutive week, Petke’s team blew a lead and looked rather unable, ill equipped, unwilling or something in between to deal with a second half that needed some figuring out. Leadership and know-how were required but turned up conspicuously missing one more time late Sunday as San Jose rallied for two late goals in a 2-1 win at Buck Shaw Stadium.

The issues to deal with, in brief:

  • New York fell completely to pieces in the final 10 minutes.
  • It all started with the visitors being completely impotent in dealing with San Jose’s high pressure; Petke’s side simply could not move the ball out of its own end.
  • The team paid a high price for left back Roy Miller’s awful spell; he made at least three critical errors in the utter fiasco that was his team’s last 10 minutes late Sunday.
  • Finally, if Thierry Henry sprinkled a few seeds of discord with his unflattering comments last week about the collective wisdom of his teammates, what in the world might the demanding Frenchman say now?

For his part, Petke is already hinting at how the team may need to adjust to handle the next similar situation.

“We need guys to man up and take control and battle. That’s what we need, especially late in games.

 “They put three forwards up top, they really pushed the play. We’re supposed to bypass their front line and possess in their end of the field. For some reason, we didn’t have guys who wanted to possess it tonight.

“At the end of the day, we’ve got to really rethink if we’re going to be a possession team. because if we can’t be or we refuse to be, then I’m going to bring on guys who can win head balls and just hammer the ball 60, 70 yards up every game and maybe get a flick up and score.”

Now, before we start shoveling any dirt on graves or anything like that, this should be said: the Red Bulls season opened with two fairly difficult road trips. Getting back home this week (in the team’s home opener Saturday against D.C. United – “Rivalry Week,” you know …) should help ease a bit of the stress and strain.

We’ll see.

(MORE: One easy fix for Petke, left back)

  1. djrrockthepitch - Mar 11, 2013 at 9:48 AM

    Can we not finally shovel dirt onto the grave of Roy Miller? Being an NYRB season ticket holder I have had the opportunity to see Miller play live many times. I don’t think his issues are based on his physical ability, but rather on his ability to stay focused for 90 minutes. Enough is enough… time to move on. With the exception of Cooper, I’m not familiar with all the finances behind all the off season moves, but I would much rather still have Solli and Keel on the roster over this guy…. and what about Holgersson? He had a rough start last year, but I thought he came into his own nicely as the season progressed. Why not a back four of Barklage, Olave, Holgersson with Pearce at left back?

    • ydj1120 - Mar 11, 2013 at 10:37 AM

      From one season ticket holder to another — Roy Miller should not be on the pitch. I too have watched him many times and you are correct — he does not focus for the entire game. Unfortunately, most of the time when he loses focus, it costs us a goal or, in this case, a game. Much rather see Pearce playing LB.

      • Steve Davis - Mar 11, 2013 at 11:15 AM

        As you guys were writing these, I was writing … well, just click on to the next post …

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