Mike Petke shoulders the blame for New York Red Bulls' late-game hiccups: "I put it on myself"

The New York Red Bulls have plenty of problems, but accountability isn’t one of them. On Tuesday, head coach Mike Petke chose to shoulder the blame for the club’s inability to close out games.

Speaking to reporters on a conference call, Petke said he was the main culprit responsible for New York’s recent inability to kill off matches. The admission from Petke came just two days after the Red Bulls allowed a one-goal lead to transform into a 3-1 loss to the winless Chicago Fire, a result that dropped the Red Bulls to 1-3-2 on the season.

“I put it on myself to be honest with you,” Petke said. “I put it on myself that we played well on the road to start and went up a goal, and then with all the talent that we have against, no disrespect to Chicago, a team we should not have given up the lead [against]. To me, that comes down to me.

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“Maybe I should spend a little more time in practice going over certain game-like situations. For instance, being down a goal, being up a goal, holding onto a lead, how we’re going to play. … I cannot put that on the players.”

Petke singled out certain matches this year in which his team was unable to seal the deal. He touched on the season-opening 3-3 road draw against the Portland Timbers, the 2-1 home win over the Philadelphia Union and the recent defeat to Chicago at Toyota Park.

“We look at the first game of the season up 3-1 at halftime, we look at Philadelphia [game] going up at home and giving that one goal back, we look at Chicago, going up a goal and then giving three goals back,” said Petke. “That’s something that comes down to myself. We’re going to identify things this week and we’re going to work on things specifically this week.”

One other thing Petke admitted he needed to work on as a head coach was his ability to handle questions tossed to him from the media immediately after matches, when emotions are running high.

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Following Sunday’s loss to the Fire, Petke was critical of his team, saying he had players “capable of so much more” and on Tuesday he acknowledged that he needs to be more careful with what he says in the heat of the moment.

“The one thing that I spoke about that I have to get used to is having questions thrown at me 10 minutes after the game, which is part of the job and I respect that and I love it” said Petke. “But I have to do a better job of controlling myself sometimes.”

Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached by email at Franco8813@gmail.com.