HANOVER, N.J. – Mike Petke and Thierry Henry both chuckled and had big smiles on their faces when asked about Armando at their media day a couple of weeks ago, mainly because they liked the Spanish center back’s physical and imposing style of play.
The MLS Disciplinary Committee, however, does not. Not this week, anyway.
The Red Bulls lost Armando for their upcoming game vs. the Fire after he was handed a one-game ban and fined an undisclosed amount by the Disciplinary Committee on Friday. The Committee punished the defender for what it deemed a “serious foul play” on DeShorn Brown in the first half of New York’s 1-1 draw with Colorado this past weekend (video above).
The 29th-minute play, which saw Armando flail out at Brown while going up for a header and was not deemed a foul, leaves the Red Bulls without the only center back who has started both of their games this season. But the club is confident that Ibrahim Sekagya, who is all but assured to fill in, or Matt Miazga can make up for Armando’s absence in Sunday’s visit to Chicago (3 pm ET, UniMas).
“It’s a loss, but at the same time we have guys that are ready to step up and come in,” midfielder Dax McCarty told reporters following Friday's practice. “That’s why you have depth on the team, that’s why you have a guy like Ibrahim Sekagya, who was pretty good for us last year and a guy that has a lot of experience. It’ll be just another game of a new starting lineup and a new test for us, but I think we’re all professional about it and we have to realize that the MLS Disciplinary Committee is watching every move that happens.
“Obviously, Armando plays with his heart on his sleeve and he plays very hard and he goes into tackles very hard. If they see something they don’t like, obviously we don’t have to be happy about it, but we can’t argue with their decision.”
Petke did not argue the Disciplinary Committee’s ruling, but stated that he would not be asking Armando to alter his style of play just because of this suspension or the fact that he is new to MLS.
Armando, who was also involved in a similar play but not punished in Week 1, signed with New York in January and is in his first year in the league after spending his entire career in Spain and Mexico.
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“I’m not about to ask my player to adapt,” said Petke. “I think he’s an honest, hard-playing defender. I’m not going to ask him to adapt or change at all.”
McCarty echoed those sentiments, saying that Armando is an aggressive but not dirty player. McCarty also agreed that the 29-year-old defender needs to stay true to himself going forward regardless of this ban.
“He plays very hard and those are the types of guys that you want on your team,” said McCarty. “You want guys on your team that are really tough to play against and you never want to have a guy like that take his foot off the pedal because that’ll just take away from what he does best.
“Hopefully, as the referees get to know him, as the Disciplinary Committee gets to know him, they’ll see that he doesn’t mean anything malicious by it. I think it’s just the way that he plays and we need guys to play like that, we need to have hunger.”
Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached by email at Franco8813@gmail.com.