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April 14, 2012
Lade makes his MLS debut

Red Bulls rookie Connor Lade made his MLS debut in Saturday night's 2-2 draw against San Jose.
Red Bulls rookie Connor Lade made his MLS debut in Saturday night's 2-2 draw against San Jose.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
By Kristian R. Dyer Contributing Editor

HARRISON, N.J. - It may have been a lackluster 2-2 draw but it was an exciting moment for Red Bulls rookie Connor Lade, who made his Major League Soccer debut in the 59th minute for an injured Roy Miller on Saturday night.

Coming into a chippy game may not have been an ideal way for the Red Bulls to finally get Lade on the field, but he showed in starting his MLS career.

A St. Johns University product who was often among the best defenders in the Big East, Lade came through the Red Bulls Academy and was a Home Grown player signing this off-season. The diminutive outside back has impressed in training sessions, earning rave reviews from coach Hans Backe. Finally when Miller went down with a knee injury midway through the second half, Lade was afforded his opportunity to get some action.

They told me to go in the corner and warm-up. I knew Roy had some issues before the game so I was kind of thinking in my head that it might be tonight, Lade said.

I feel fortunate -- overall, Im pleased.

It didnt look like his first time for Lade as he immediately came onto the field and became active. Most of his play was safe and direct, choosing not to play around on the ball. He didnt push forward too often, something he often does in training, but Backe was pleased with his first significant minutes.

He was involved in some good action he has a lot of pace; hes a tough guy, Backe said.

I have no problem to play Connor Lade, hes a left back in MLS. I was quite surprised the whole preseason with his performance. Hes a guy that definitely can play well in MLS.

He had some scary moments, including getting turned around a bit late in the match by San Joses Marvin Chavez inside the penalty area, but Lade always seemed to recover. Coming into a second half where the Red Bulls kept possession just 42.9 percent of the time, Lade did well to adjust and not make any mistakes.

So I think he had to face a challenge in his first game in MLS, captain Thierry Henry said.

That was not an easy one for him. But I thought that he did well.

And now after finally throwing Lade into the action, Backe knows he has an option at outside back that he can rely on. Lade too is learning from his debut and says that he can now carry it to the training pitch as the team readies for D.C. United next weekend.

It comes with time, experience. Im just fortunate that I could see the level it takes and what you need to do [at] a level like this in a game, Lade said.

Its one thing to do it in practice but [another] to get on the field in an important game and try it.

Follow Kristian R. Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer
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