January 31, 2013
THEY'RE THE REAL THING
Olave, Espindola impress Petke in training
By Michael Lewis
|Fabian Espindola has needed to be told to slow down by Red Bulls coach Mike Petke.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
When he played against Jamison Olave and Fabian Espindola, Red Bulls coach Mike Petke knew he was competing against quality.
And as it turns out, Petke did not need much reminding after a week and a half of practice of how good those two former Real Salt Lake players are.
After watching both former Real Salt Lake players in only a handful of practices, Petke gave the new acquisitions a thumb's up.
"Both of them. Incredible professionalism," Petke said on Thursday. "They have been great so far."
Both players came to the Red Bulls in exchange allocation money on Dec. 3. Olave, a former MLS Best XI defender, is expected to shore up the backline. Espindola is slated to team with Thierry Henry up front.
The 31-year-old Olave, a Colombian, has an edge to his game, something that was missing from the New York defense last season.
"Olave is exactly the type of player we needed a bit more of last year . . . that bite, the guys who are willing to do the dirty work," Petke said during a conference call. "I look at the time when I played and people might have pegged me as that. When I look at someone like Olave and his size and the tackles he puts in, it makes me look like an offensive midfielder in a way. It's great to have someone like him in camp, watching him unfold over the last week and a half. You see bits and pieces on what he can bring to this team."
"He has done very well. Most of the time he has brought exactly what we hoped he would be."
Olave, who was awarded a green card in 2010 and won't be counted as an international player, was limited to 21 games last season in a year plagued by injuries. But that did not faze Petke.
"The injury thing was a bit blown out of proportion," he said. "He did play 24 games. I averaged 26 games [a season] in my career, and I was never injury prone. So he's right on that par right there. He's been fine, no issues what-so-ever. Very hard worker."
The same can be said of the 27-year-old Espindola, although Petke admitted he had to hold the Argentine native back in practice a few times.
"Espindola is always somebody watching him play and i was going to say pleasure, but being that I was against him, the displeasure at times playing against him," he said. "One thing that struck me is that everybody looks at what he does with the ball When he is on offense. But at center back, he was one of only a handful of players in the league, and not every forward did this, that I played against, I had to be just as worried when we had the ball as when they had the ball because he never gave me a second to breath."
Petke was reminded of that this week.
"It became evident over the last couple of days. I had to go over to him a couple of times and say, 'Fabian, relax, calm.' Because he's running after everything non-stop," he said. "It's that type of personality -- work-work. That's refreshing in one aspect but the other aspect is, 'Listen, it's a 90-minute game. It's not a seven-minute possession drill we're doing.
"That's a great problem to have. He's got an incredible personality."