October 5, 2012
HE AIN'T YELLOW
Lindpere isn't afraid of another card, even if it means a suspension
By Michael Lewis
|Joel Lindpere: If I have to be suspended, then I have to be suspended. Really, I've been doing the same thing, but I really haven't got into any bad tackles lately."
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
Joe Lindpere has been a man living on the edge recently.
The veteran midfielder has played the last several Red Bulls game with a yellow card warning. In other words, the next time he is booked by the referee, he will be forced to miss a game, due to yellow-card accumulation.
That's not necessarily something you want to see happen to the club's iron man. Lindpere is the only Red Bull who has played in all of the team's 31 matches entering Saturday's 3:30 p.m. showdown (NBC) between the Red Bulls and Chicago Fire at Red Bull Arena.
While the 31-year Estonian international knows how close he is to that dastard yellow card, he said that hasn't and won't change his playing style.
"I've been there for five or six games already," he said on Thursday. "I don't think about. If I have to be suspended, then I have to be suspended. I don't care. Really, I've been doing the same thing, but I really haven't got into any bad tackles lately."
If Lindpere gets carded, he hoped it will be for a deserving foul.
"I do my thing," he said. "If I get a yellow, then I get a yellow. If I get a yellow, I hope I get it for the right thing. It's situation where we need every player. I'm trying to avoid stupid things because we are at the end of the season."
While much of the media has hyped Saturday's game as a vital encounter, Lindpere doesn't see it as the end of the world even though it is an encounter between a pair of second-place teams in the Eastern Conference. The winner will clinch a spot in the MLS playoffs, the loser will have to wait a week to do so.
"Chicago is a big game," he said, "but I think the season is [continuing]. If people write so much about it, it's just one game for me. We have three games to go for the playoffs. Before the last game we said, 'It's also very important, a must-win game and everything.' We need to take one game as one game, and as a serious game. . . . So I think everyone understands the situation, but it's not an MLS Cup final."
The Red Bulls should be the better rested team because the Fire played -- and surprisingly lost at home to the lowly Philadelphia Union, 3-1 -- on Wednesday.
"They played Wednesday and we just practiced, so, we should be more fresh," he said. "We should be more fresh and we're at home. We just need to take advantage. If they lost or won, I don't think it changes anything much because Chicago has been in a good run and they are in a good situation."
The teams have split the season series, with Chicago prevailing at home, 3-1, on June 17, and the Red Bulls winning at RBA, 1-0, in high heat and high humidity in that infamous Wednesday afternoon clash on July 18.
"Chicago has been a problem for us, especially away," Lindpere said. "I don't think we haven't won away [in Chicago] too any times. At home we have beaten them. It's going to be an interesting game. I think we advantage here because they played Wednesday and we play at home. It's going to be tough for them to come here and get three points. I don't think they will match us."
Lindpere chuckled a bit before becoming quite serious when talking about the Red Bulls' latest shake-up, the replacement of Erik Soler as general manager. Lindpere was an early signing of Soler's regime, officially joining the team in March 2010. He has the second in the longest Red Bull tenure only to left back Roy Miller.
"I don't know who decides it," Lindpere said. "We don't the background, who decides . . . or what's happening. Red Bull has made so many changes and so much has been happening. Maybe all the things that are happening [is because] that we don't have crowds in the stands. They want to change something and fine tuning maybe.
"It's a strange timing. I think we as a team, we don't change. We have a couple of weeks to go and it doesn't change for the team, too much. For Red Bull, changes are normal."
After Saturday's game, Lindpere will join his Estonian teammates for two World Cup qualifying matches. The Eastern European side has not fared well, losing both its opening European Group D games. Estonia hosts Hungary on Oct. 12 in Tallinn, Estonia on Oct. 12 and at Andorra four days later.
"I have been involved with this thing this year. I am really happy I have been involved in most of the games and every game for the Red Bulls," Lindpere said. "I just try to keep my head up and do a good job. I want to win something. That's the motivation. That's what every player is working for -- to win something."
Winning on Saturday and staying away from a yellow card would be another important step.