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January 15, 013
Red Bulls not certain if they will draft a player to fill their needs or the best available with 22nd selection

By Michael Lewis Editor

Entering Thursday's two-round MLS SuperDraft, the Red Bulls face some slim pickings, with only one choice at No. 22.

So, interim head coach Mike Petke, has a Plan A and a Plan B, depending on which players are left when the selection process enters the start of the second round. That's a plan of either filling the team's needs or going with the best available player.

Petke said the team has a list of players in the order they think they are going be chosen in Indianapolis.

"If the things get shuffled in the mix, it's going to become a game time decision to be a honest with you," he said during a conference call on Tuesday. "We have a separate list of best available. So we're not sure exactly. Of course, we want to take care of what our needs are. We have a nice list of players, if they're available which will fill our needs.

"Almost every team's draft board going into the combine has dramatically changed. I know mine has and the staff that i'm with here has. Players stepping up, players dropping down a bit. We have a list of best available and as well as our needs. I think it's going to come down to the pick or two before us, seeing what's going on. Then we can make a decision there."

At the present time the Red Bulls are thin at midfield, so that would be an obvious position to fill.

"We have a list of players who we think are potentially available at 22nd," he said. "Those are players that we are comfortable with. We watched them, we focused on them. And if they're available and there's a great need exactly at the position we're talking about. But like I said, if it gets to that point and there's a select few of those players who will fulfill those needs, then we might go outside the box and get the best available."

There are certain positions the Red Bulls don't need to fill.

"If the best available is a forward -- he really has had to convince us throughout this past week," Petke said. "Obviously, we're not looking for a goalkeeper. We haven't looked at one goalkeeper down here. Also certain positions such as center back . . . are not high priority for us."

Realizing they probably won't get a blue chip prospect right off the bat at No. 22, Petke said the team might select someone who needs to develop.

On Monday, the Red Bulls talked to six players they feel will be available that late, to find out where they're heads were at.

Petke said he asked them: "I know its easy to give the right answer as far as we think we want to hear, but I really want you to be honest with us here. How would you feel getting drafted, coming to New York and being in a situation that you're not going to be an impact player immediately. It's going to be a developmental process. We see something in you. Not quite ready for this game yet. We're looking at possibly late in the season or perhaps the following season when you step up and do a more prominent role."

Petke noted the case of Sporting Kansas City midfielder Graham Zusi, who did not play much when he first joined the team, but became such a vital player that he has played with the U.S. National Team.

"Now look where he's at," he said. "Can you handle that? That's the type of players who are going to fall into our lap. A player we don't think will be ready to step on initially. It's all about finding out about their personality and their mentality, how they would handle something like that. We have a pretty good read on those interviews and what we've seen, knocking on wood right now."
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