Lloyd Sam was so good off the bench in the New York Red Bulls’ win last weekend, he just might stay there for a while.
Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke indicated as much during a conference call on Tuesday, raving about Sam’s ability to provide a spark to the team as a super-sub. Sam scored a goal and added an assist in team’s 3-2 win over Sporting Kansas City last Saturday, and he was voted MLS Player of the Week as a result.
“Lloyd did exactly what I see his strength being, which is coming off the bench and running at people and being very dangerous,” Petke said. “He’s proven to be [that] in a number of games this year. Does that mean he’s not going to be a starter? No, it doesn’t mean that at all. There are games coming up that he will start.
“But he did exactly what [the coach staff] wanted him to and it wasn’t a spur of the moment decision. It was something we talked about leading up to that game, when the time is right, whether it be the last 20 minutes or whether it be the second half. The whole second half, we feel that if the game calls for it, he could be someone that could do something special and he proved that.”
Sam’s role might be clear to Petke, but the 28-year-old midfielder’s availability for this Saturday’s road trip to Columbus to take on the Crew is anything but. Sam was substituted after suffering a late knock to his left quad in the match at Sporting Park, and his status for the upcoming weekend has yet to be determined.
“We’re evaluating it day by day,” Petke said. “I don’t have a definite timeframe. I wouldn’t even want to guess about this weekend, but we’re taking it day by day. He wasn’t in training today, he was with the medical staff, and [Wednesday] we’ll have a better idea.”
One other injured player Petke touched on was Designated Player Tim Cahill. Petke said Cahill’s right knee is improving, but gave no timetable for his recovery from the torn PCL he suffered in a 4-3 win over Real Salt Lake nearly two weeks ago.
“Tim Cahill continues to do very well,” Petke said. “He will not be involved in the Columbus game this weekend and anything after that depends on how he continues to rehab and how he continues to respond to the treatment he’s getting. I’d love to give a best-case and worst-case scenario, but I really can’t do that at the moment. But he is doing well, he’s improving.”