Tim Cahill started in his first game for the New York Red Bulls in more than a month this past weekend, and head coach Mike Petke was plenty pleased with what he saw.
Cahill snapped a streak of five games without a start by getting the nod and playing 61 minutes in the Red Bulls’ 1-0 victory vs. FC Dallas on Sunday. Cahill was involved in two of the game’s most decisive moments, taking a flying kick from Je-Vaughn Watson in the 10th minute that saw the FC Dallas midfielder sent off and fouling Danny Garcia in the 58th minute to concede a penalty kick that Luis Robles ultimately saved.
All in all, however, it was a good return to the office for Cahill as far as Petke was concerned.
“Yeah, I thought Tim had some very good moments for his first game back,” said Petke. “The one thing that went against him was the red card [foul] on him. That was 10 minutes in or something like that and he was having a little bit of trouble, not enough where we had to pull him out right away, but it definitely hampered him a little bit.
“That’s a big reason why he came off in the [61st] minute. … But Tim did well. It’s not easy coming back from that long [layoff] in those conditions. Overall, I think that his movement was good, his defensive responsibilities were very good, so happy with Tim for his first game back.”
For his part, Cahill was equally as content to get back in the mix for his longest stint since suffering a hamstring injury in a 1-1 draw with Chivas USA back on March 30. That knock saw him miss four of the next five games before he started at Dallas this past weekend.
“The main thing is was getting back out after three weeks out and getting some game time,” said Cahill, who should be World Cup-bound in the coming weeks. “I got 60 minutes and I was happy to contribute. Disappointed with the penalty that I give away, but that’s what teammates are for. Luis has been absolutely outstanding and I thank him loads.”
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Cahill, who is known for being a player that throws his body around with reckless abandon, also admitted that he was not too thrilled about being on the receiving end of Watson’s unintentional but clumsy challenge. Cahill has unluckily been on the end of some rough tackles for much of the past two seasons, and Watson’s studs-up kick was just the latest.
“I felt all right until I got a karate kick right in my midriff,” said Cahill. “It’s probably one or two a season I get, a tackle, that’s crazy and that’s ridiculous.”
Cahill trained fully on Wednesday and is expected to start a second straight game for the Red Bulls when they host the Chicago Fire on Saturday.
Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached by e-mail at Franco8813@gmail.com.