New York Red Bulls' Juninho: “It wasn’t my first card, but I hope it was my last one”

HARRISON, N.J. – The New York Red Bulls were clearly frustrated in their 1-0 loss to Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday night, and no moment exemplified that more than when Juninho received a red card in second-half stoppage time.

Juninho kicked a ball at Sporting KC goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen in the dying seconds of Wednesday’s game at Red Bull Arena, resulting in a straight red card for the Brazilian midfielder. It was an act Juninho took full responsibility for after the game, even if he felt Nielsen embellished a little bit, and one he hopes does not happen again.

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“I’m not happy about it and I don’t know how many games I’ll get as far as a suspension,” Juninho told reporters after the game. “It wasn’t my first card, but I hope it was my last one.”

Juninho admitted he lost his cool but also explained that he rifled the ball at Nielsen because he was upset with how much time he felt the Sporting KC netminder was wasting not just on that restart, but on several others as well.

“I was very frustrated with the goalkeeper, who was delaying the game a lot and I tried to rush him but I felt he exaggerated a lot,” said Juninho. “I don’t think I hit him in the face.”

The veteran Brazilian will now miss this Saturday’s home game against the New England Revolution because of the ejection, and there is a chance the MLS Disciplinary Committee could add more games to his suspension.

As far as the Red Bulls go, however, there will be no major punishment for Juninho.

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“He’s a competitive person and I certainly know that sometimes the emotions get the most of you,” Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke said in his postgame press conference. “Of course, I’m going to speak to him but he is a total team player and perhaps [this is] a bit out of his character. He’s an emotional person who wants to win and he let his emotions get the best of him. It’s happened to me hundreds of times, happens to many of these players.”

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