July 3, 2013
PARTING OF THE WAYS
Juninho leaves Red Bulls
Juninho is gone.
|Juninho;made $200,000 with the Red Bulls this season, according to the MLS Players Union.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
The Red Bulls announced on Wednesday afternoon they came to a deal with midfielder Juninho to mutually agree to cancel his contract.
The former Brazilian international midfielder turned out to be a bust with the Major League Soccer team. The 38-year-old veteran had problems with the physical side of the league, especially his ability to track back on defense.
“We are very disappointed that Juninho has decided to return to Brazil because he is a great professional and a very talented footballer,” Red Bulls Sporting Director Andy Roxburgh said in a statement. “We wish him all of the best and thank him for his valuable contributions during the first half of the 2013 MLS campaign.”
Juninho was on the books to earn $200,000 from the Red Bulls and MLS, according to the MLS Players Union.
Considered one of the world's best free-kick takers, Juninho failed to connect on any of his spot kicks with the Red Bulls this season. He finished with no goals and four assists in 13 games and 10 starts over 984 minutes.
Juninho, who dressed for the Red Bulls' 2-0 win over the Houston Dynamo on Sunday, had returned to Brazil to deal with a personal matter, Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke told the media on Monday.
“Before I leave for home, I want to thank the New York Red Bulls for the opportunity to experience MLS and to wish my teammates and the club’s excellent fans every success for the remainder of the season,” Juninho said in a statement.
Perhaps Juninho's most memorable kick happened during stoppage time of Sporting Kansas City's 1-0 win over the host Red Bulls on April 17. After enduring frustrating evening of trying to put a free kick on target, Juninho finally fired the ball at Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen from point-blank range a minute into added time. Nielsen fell to the ground as though he was run over by a truck, some horrible acting on his part. Regardless, the Brazilian was awarded a red card.
A member of Brazil's 2006 World Cup team, Juninho signed with the Red Bulls from Brazilian First Division side, Vasco da Gama on Dec. 17, 2012. He recorded four assists and 13 appearances, 10 of which were starts.
He played for French First Division club Olympique Lyonnais (Lyon) from 2001-2009. With Lyon, Juninho helped win seven connsecutive Ligue 1 titles from 2002-08 while recording 100 goals in 344 matches in all competitions.
Juninho began his career with Brazilian club Sport in 1991 before heading to Vasco da Gama in 1995. He won the Brazilian Championship with the Rio de Janeiro-based side in 1997 and 2000 and the Copa Libertadores in 1998.
He made his Brazilian National Team debut in 1999 and earned 47 caps, scoring seven goals.