Mike Petke had a tough time watching Roy Miller commit blunder after blunder late on Sunday. But the Costa Rican defender wasn't the only player the New York Red Bulls head coach was unhappy with after his team surrendered a halftime lead on the road for a second straight week in a 2-1 loss to the San Jose Earthquakes.
While there's no denying Miller had a nightmare of a match – he was involved in the three game-changing plays in the final seven minutes – Petke would not solely blame him for the defeat that dropped the Red Bulls to 0-1-1 on the season. Instead, he wants the team as a whole to look in the mirror.
"We need guys to man up and take control and battle," Petke told MLSoccer.com after the loss. "That’s what we need, especially late in games.”
The Red Bulls were certainly lacking in that department, as their inability to hold onto the ball for stretches result in waves of attacks from the Earthquakes. For Petke, that lack of possession proved costly.
“They put three forwards up top, they really pushed the play,” said Petke on how his team should have closed out the game. “We’re supposed to bypass their front line and possess in their end of the field. For some reason, we didn’t have guys who wanted to possess it tonight.”
With a roster that boasts talents like Thierry Henry and Tim Cahill, New York should have no problem fielding a possession-based team that has no problem killing off games. But the last two weeks have demonstrated that the Red Bulls have a lot of work to do and Petke wants to see improvement, and fast.
“At the end of the day, we’ve got to really rethink if we’re going to be a possession team,” he said, “because if we can’t be or we refuse to be, then I’m going to bring on guys who can win head balls and just hammer the ball 60, 70 yards up every game and maybe get a flick up and score.”