Newcomers officially join MetroStars
The television in Bob Bradley's office at Giants Stadium always seems to be on, a soccer game of some sort on its screen. And the shelves to its right are filled with videotaped games, games from all around the world.
It's not that Bradley is a soccer junkie; he's using those tapes as learning tools for his players.
Take newly acquired Ryan Suarez, for example. Bradley said he might show an old AC Milan match to the fiery defender, who was released by Chivas USA on Monday following a sideline shouting match with coach Hans Westerhof the previous Saturday.
"Paolo Maldini plays with passion, Paolo Maldini competes, gives everything he has but does it as a total pro. If you ever play against him, there would never be an easy play and he would earn the respect of his teammates and his opponents every day," Bradley said, "There would be no trash talking or waving his arms about everything. There would be no antics. There would be total professional effort.
"If I'm Ryan Suarez and I'm a soccer player and I want to model myself after someone, I'm choosing someone like Paolo Maldini."
Bradley had his first face-to-face meeting with Suarez, who was picked up by the MetroStars on Wednesday, at the team's training session Friday in Rutherford, N.J. They spoke for about a half-hour but the incident that eventually led to him joining the Metros wasn't discussed.
"Ryan is a player that, at times in his MLS career, has done a good job for his team but there are other times when he hasn't always handled himself and acted the way a good player is supposed to," Bradley said. "I think he's ready at this point in his career -- in his life -- to be held to a higher standard and those are the things we talked about."
Suarez, who arrived in New Jersey on Thursday night, met his new teammates for the first time the following day and got his first taste of the area's heat, humidity, as well as the FieldTurf.
"I still have baby's feet when it comes to this turf," he said. "It's going to take some time to get used to it."
He also got the chance to have a few laughs with Ante Razov, who he has had more than a fair share of battles with over the years. He joked that most of his exchanges before Friday involved a couple of four-letter words.
"It's very different playing with him than playing against him," Suarez said. "We got a lot off our chests. It was a good talk. I've always had respect for him."
Suarez, who will play either right back or center back with the Metros, still has to get in sync with his fellow defenders and will not start Monday at Real Salt Lake. But he expects to be in the starting 11 soon.
"I need to earn the respect of my teammates and earn a starting spot," Suarez said. "Today I did pretty well."
Added Bradley: "He needs time -- how much, I couldn't tell you. The work has started."
Another newcomer who expects to find himself in the starting lineup is veteran goalkeeper Tony Meola, who officially began his second tour of duty with the MetroStars on Thursday when the club picked him up off waivers.
Friday was his fifth training session with the club -- he trained Monday through Thursday anticipating the Metros signing -- and even served as interim goalkeeping coach the past two days, filling in for the ill Des McAleenan.
"When I have a player like Tony, I give him responsibility, I challenge him, try and get him to give as much as he can to make this thing better," Bradley said. "Players like Tony, with their experience, with their ideas, I have always been lucky to coach guys like that. It's only been a few days, but I enjoy every part of having Tony around."
But Meola doesn't want to get used to coaching -- he wants back on the field.
"Oh man, I don't know," Meola said, when asked if coaching was in his future. "The national team goalkeeping coaching job would be nice because then I could live in Kansas City if I wanted to and not move around but who knows what's going to happen. Our game is hard to predict."
While Meola admits to being about a month away from full fitness, he does plan on pushing Zach Wells for his starting job.
"My position is one that you can never be content being the backup because if you are, you'll be a backup your whole life. How you approach it when you are the backup is maybe part of some of the problem they may have had here in the recent past," Meola said. "That's the part that Bob has to sort out and that's the part that everyone has to be professional about. If we are, there won't be a problem because at the end of the day it's Bob who makes the decisions."
And it's a competition that should bring out the best in both 'keepers.
"That's the idea with every position, everyone should be pushing everyone for a starting job," Wells said. "When Jonny (Walker) was here, he was pushing and when (backup 'keeper) Mike (Ueltschey) is healthy, he's doing the same thing. It's good competition. The main goal is to win a championship. That's all I really care about at this point."
Dylan Butler is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.