A Bullish Start For The Red Bulls This Season

Wed, 03 Mar 2010 15:02
The worst team in MLS last season is experiencing a phoenix-like rise this preseason as it captured the inaugural Walt Disney Pro Soccer Classic with its 4-0 win against Toronto FC. Even if the games do not count and it’s still too early to make predictions for the upcoming season, the Red Bulls can’t contain their excitement over their preseason performance. It seems that having a new coach and a new system has rejuvenated the Red Bulls. Veteran defender Mike Petke has praises for the new regime under coach Hans Backe and sporting director and general manager Erik Soler. “Well, I could tell you that it feels like night and day compared to last year,” Petke declared after the victory. “We’re playing much differently this year. It just feels good. It really does.” Petke cites the game plan that Backe has laid out and the discipline with which he had the team practice in order to work on, along with the perseverance to stick to the game plan. He goes on to acknowledge that while recent events are not enough to make them the champion this season, at least the team is a step in the right direction. Angel to the rescue The highlight of the recent game was the superb performance of striker Juan Pablo Angel. The striker was able to score three goals, performed a hat trick, and a 16-yard bicycle kick that spectators applauded despite it being a miss. Angel headed home the line drive corner kick from point-blank range from Joel Lindpere. Five minutes later, he doubled the lead as he finished a rapid build-up on the left side. In the 49th minute, he made a pure hat trick, converting a feed coming from rookie Austin da Luz. Angel echoes Petke’s enthusiasm on their performance this preseason. He describes the atmosphere at camp as great, making him find his form little by little. He credits the hat trick during the game as a big confidence booster. “As long as I don’t have to touch the turf, I feel phenomenal,” Angel says, referring to the artificial turf at Giants Stadium. The striker has been known to dislike the artificial turf with a passion, having played on it the past three years. This year will ought to be a good one for him as the Red Bulls will play on the green grass of Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J. A kick in the knee The game was not without its scare though for the Red Bulls and the team’s all-time leading goal scorer. Angel received a kick in the right knee from Toronto midfielder Julian de Guzman, which left him slumped in the field, clutching his right knee in pain. He was escorted off the field by team athletic trainer Rick Guter, walking towards the benches with a slight limp.

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