If the New York Red Bulls are to make moves in the upcoming transfer window, one area they likely will not address is defense.
Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke essentially admitted as much during a conference call on Tuesday when asked about the type of players he will look to bring in this summer. Petke said that New York’s recent string of good results – the club is riding a six-game unbeaten streak and has lost just once in their last eight – has convinced him that the defense does not need to be bolstered, which was not always the case.
“Early in the season [the front office and I] were really talking about our defense and getting another center back,” Petke said. “I am very comfortable now with where guys like Markus Holgersson, Heath Pearce, Roy Miller, have stepped up and, consistently over this run, have done a great job.
“We talked about when this run started saying, ‘Wow, maybe this is a bit of a turnaround for those guys, but it’s too early to say,” Petke added. “Now, we are seeing them consistently over the course of seven, eight games turn it around and really understand what we expect of them and to deliver it almost every game. It takes my mindset a bit away from looking at a center back or someone along the defense.”
The Red Bulls defense has indeed been impressive for much of the past two months. They have conceded just five goals in eight matches and posted three shutouts, which seemed unimaginable at the start of the season when New York’s backline lacked chemistry and leaked chances aplenty.
That improvement in defense might force the Red Bulls organization to look elsewhere when trying to upgrade their roster this summer, but it still does not ensure that New York will make any acquisitions in the coming months.
“We are not just going to go out and get anybody for the sake of getting them, a name or not,” said Petke. “It has to fit in perfectly with what we are trying to do here.“
Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached by e-mail at Franco8813@gmail.com.