When the New York Red Bulls signed Designated Players Thierry Henry and Rafa Márquez in 2010, there was the belief among some in the organization that the star duo might scoff at the notion of having to drive to a miniscule training facility located on a college campus for practice.
Going forward, that will not be an issue.
The Red Bulls officially moved out of their practice facility – a solitary field at Montclair State University – and opened a new one in Hanover, N.J., on Tuesday morning, and head coach Mike Petke could not stop raving about it prior to the club’s initial training session there.
Petke called the facility – which includes three fields (two grass, one turf) and two buildings which house the team’s locker room, training rooms and offices – “incredible” and related the move there to when the club left Giants Stadium to open Red Bull Arena in 2010.
“We’ve been at Montclair for so many years and it wasn’t suitable for the players that we have and the environment that we wanted,” Petke told reporters via a conference call on Tuesday morning. “We made do with it and to move into a facility that Red Bull has given us, it’s unbelievable. The excitement level is already high and the guys are anxious to get out there today and knock the ball around.”
Due to a lack of options, New York had been practicing primarily at Montclair State University since 2007. But training there did not come without its complications, especially with regards to the lone grass field the club had to play on on nearly a daily basis.
"Having one field at Montclair, and having our grounds crew there 24/7 and working as hard as they could, but you have one field for that many years, it’s very difficult to keep it in the same shape," said Petke. "The size field at Montclair was around 60, 40 yards wide, which is tiny so it was tough to translate [real-game scenarios]. To have that small of a field, the space that you use in a game, not having that in 11-v-11 [scrimmages] or working on building out of the back, it was tough."
Now at a more suitable facility that will be opened to media on Wednesday, the Red Bulls believe they will benefit from training daily in Hanover. In fact, Petke sees no reason for why the club should fail to perform consistently.
"Just immediately to walk out of the locker room to the field and just see it, perception-wise, it makes any player feel wonderful about what they’re about to do on that field, no matter what it is," said Petke. "It just really brings a professional environment. Everything that we feel they need is there every day and our office has provided them in this facility.
“This is a team that I don’t believe has ever really had excuses for anything, so I’m saying the next thing not about them doing that before, but there’s no excuses whatsoever, and that in my mind has been a bit of my mantra. From the arena to the practice facility to everything we try to do for these players off the field to get them prepared on the field, there literally [are] no excuses anymore.“
Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached by e-mail at Franco8813@gmail.com.