UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J. — Péguy Luyindula may not yet be as sharp or as fit as he or the New York Red Bulls would like, but that has not stopped him from showing glimpses of the quality he can bring once he returns to top form.
Luyindula has started in each of the Red Bulls’ last two games and, while there has been some evident rust, there have been moments where the 33-year-old forward has demonstrated the talent that had him playing for French powerhouse Paris Saint-Germain just last year.
From his stellar hold-up play, to his movement off the ball, to the first-class assist that recently helped end the Red Bulls’ winless start to the season, Luyindula has been serviceable up top for New York. It is his composure in front of goal, however, that has left a lot to be desired and he knows it.
“I have to be more aware to finish,” Luyindula told MLSsoccer.com after New York’s practice on Wednesday. “I always finish those [chances], but I’m not afraid of [missing]. … I’m not worried about this thing. When you’re a striker, the most difficult to score is the first one and then the first one comes and it’s easy [after that].”
Aside from being sharper, another area that the Frenchman admits needs improvement is his fitness. Prior to playing for the Red Bulls, Luyindula had not played in an official match since last September and he is still admittedly not in tip-top shape.
“I’m almost very good but clearly I have to get three, four more games to feel plenty of my strength and my capacity because I feel a little bit of wearing [down] at the end of the action,” said Luyindula. “If I’m running 30, 40 yards, at the end of this run I’m a little bit tired so in like three, four games, I’m going to be good. I’m going to be able to make those runs and then be very aware in front of goal.”
Luyindula’s next chance to find the back of the net will come on Sunday when the Red Bulls visit the winless Chicago Fire at Toyota Park (5 pm ET, ESPN2, live chat on MLSsoccer.com), a stadium he is familiar with after having played in an international tournament there with PSG in 2009.
Luyindula would like to open his goal-scoring account as soon as possible but he also recognizes that there are other ways for him to make an impact, such as with his movement and delicately-lobbed passes like the one he sent to Thierry Henry in this past weekend’s 2-1 win over the Philadelphia Union.
“I’m not just a straight striker, I’m not just a target-man who stays in front of the goal and just waiting for the balls,” said Luyindula. “I can make my team play, I can help them defensively, I can help them wide. I have so many things to bring to this team.”
Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached by e-mail at Franco8813@gmail.com.