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February 21, 2013
Petke more concerned about getting Red Bulls into shape than getting results in the pre-season

Central defender Jamison Olave was "a beast" against the Seattle Sounders, according to coach Mike Petke.
Central defender Jamison Olave was "a beast" against the Seattle Sounders, according to coach Mike Petke.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
TUCSON, Ariz. -- If Mike Petke is getting antsy, the Red Bulls coach is not showing it.

New York continued its winless run in the Tucson Desert Diamond Cup in a 2-0 defeat to the Seattle Sounders in the snow on Wednesday night.

The Red Bulls are 0-2-1 in the final competition with the season opener at the Portland Timbers looming on March 3.

"Tough conditions to play in, first and foremost," Petke said. "So I don't know how much I am taking away from this negatively. But I did see some positives in the first half, guys stepping up and being aggressive."

Petke said that central defender Jamison "Olave continues to be a beast. He played well. Everybody had their moments, their good moments. We just didn't have that final pass and that's something you're going to need."

The Red Bulls rookie coach was encouraged by his team's possession play in the first half, but New York had nothing to show for it.

"Phenomenal possession in the first half, but it was possession without intent," Petke said. "It was side to side. It was everything [from our] end to our backline. We were never a threat on goal. We had opportunities to be a threat on goal, but we never capitalized."

Several regulars did not start or play. Team captain and striker Thierry Henry did not dress because since it was the pre-season, the team probably did not want him to play three games within an eight-day span. Central midfielder Dax McCarty also did not play. No reason was given his that.

"We had a plan of we wanted to play going in, a couple of late additions and subtractions," Petke said. "It has nothing to do with injuries or anything like that. We wanted to see a couple of other people and we wanted to get certain players significant minutes to get them into game shape. "

Another player also did not suit up -- midfielder Jonny Steele, who was obtained in a trade with Real Salt Lake earlier in the day.

"He has incredible experience as far as playing as an Irish youth international for years," Petke said. "I was always impressed with his work rate, his soccer brain in a way. He was very valuable for them. When he became available, he was the type of player who can help us at wide in a pinch in the middle. Coming from a program like Salt Lake, he obviously he knows the game, playing that many games."

Petke said that he and assistant coach Robin Fraser were "very familiar" with Steele.

"We just felt comfortable bringing him in," he added.

Petke did not say whether Steele would play in New York's final pre-season game in the third-place match against the New England Revolution on Saturday night. But he has expectations for the team.

"I want to see everybody sharp and on their toes," he said. "The last chance to put a solid performance in physically and tactically before our opener. I'm not so concerned with the results because it's pre-season. We want to look for players to be improving. It's the final test on Saturday."
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