New contract inked, Lindpere sets sights on hardware

Joel Lindpere

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There is unfinished business left for New York Red Bulls midfielder Joel Lindpere as he enters his third year in MLS.

The Estonian international signed a new, deal multi-year deal in January that will keep him in New York for the next two years. Now, as the team looks to build on two successful years, Lindpere sees potential to lift some hardware for the first time in franchise history.

GOAL: Lindpere finishes Richards cross

“If me as a player, if I don’t see potential in this team, why should I sign a new contract?” Lindpere told MLSsoccer.com. “I think from last year we can say we started good, in the middle we were not so good and in the end finished strong. We lost to the best team. I’ve said it many times, if we had beaten LA, we would have won.”

Lindpere was part of the resurgent Red Bulls in 2010, scoring the first goal of the season as the team went from worst in the league the year before to top of the Eastern Conference. Then last year he was a consistent and clutch performer, and is clearly one of the team leaders heading into year three.

“Now I think we can make it and we need to show we can make it,” Lindpere explained. “I think it’s going to be an interesting two years for the fans, for me also. It’s definitely harder this year with new teams, more players, new stadiums and a lot of changes in the league and with the schedule.”

Although his option was picked up in November, reports surfaced that the midfielder was gaining interest from several European suitors. The Red Bulls put an end to all those rumors two weeks ago by extending Lindpere a new offer, ensuring the popular and gutsy player will remain a cornerstone of the franchise.

“We all agreed that I’d like to stay in this team,” Lindpere said. “I’m happy with the team and I got my points in when I wanted it. I can look forward at this point now. I think one day that any offers again, we know how to work with it. These problems are solved for now and I think both sides are happy now.”

After taking more than a year off from the national team, Lindpere returned last fall to the Estonian side for Euro 2012 qualifying. Although his country failed to qualify, he says it isn’t the end of his involvement with the program. In fact, he will join the national team on Feb. 28 for a friendly against El Salvador in Los Angeles.

“I don’t regret any of my options, but that’s my homeland and my son plays soccer back home, so I have plans in the future with soccer in Estonia,” Lindpere said. “In every situation that’s possible, I’m going to play for them if I’m fit and it’s an official FIFA date. It’s more work, it’s more traveling but I need it and I want this.”