The Villa Effect: Petke addresses NYCFC signing, Red Bulls’ response and Henry’s future

IMAGE, ROB TRINGALI, NEW YORK RED BULLS

IMAGE, ROB TRINGALI, NEW YORK RED BULLS

From the moment New York City F.C. came to being, many MLS fans in the Tri-State area wondered just how the Red Bulls would respond to their presence.

The signing of David Villa has brought that question to the forefront.

Will the high-profile signing have an impact on the way the Red Bulls do business?
Reporters led with Villa questions to kick-off head coach Mike Petke’s press conference this week.

A gunslinger when it comes to his opinions, Petke took a diplomatic stance to the signing, stating: “Any time you sign a player that’s played at a high level, it’s good for the league. Yeah, David Villa is a good player and, as far as me facing him next year, I’m smack dab in the middle of the 2014 MLS season so I’m really not thinking at this second how we’re going to deal with someone like that, David Villa, or NYC FC.

“That’ll come more at the end of the season into the offseason.”

The obvious question that follows is how the Red Bulls would respond — if at all. Currently, New York have a single DP slot available to them. With the summer transfer window ready to descend across the world, MLS teams will dip into the market in hopes of finding the best talent available for their club.

The Red Bulls are no different. The team’s technical staff has taken a slow and steady approach to acquiring talent under the leadership of Sporting Director Andy Roxburgh, stressing continuity and stability over making a splash. “The right fit” and not “the biggest name” has been the club’s mantra when confronted about acquiring a third DP.

According to Petke, that won’t change just because Villa is in town.

“Like I said many times, we’re always looking to sign if someone is available,” Petke said. “Having another team sign a star is not going to force us to do it right away. One thing, to me, has nothing to do with the other.”

However, a third DP is not the only major talent concern for the team. Their marquee DP, Thierry Henry, has a contract that expires at the end of this season. The French striker has enjoyed an impactful run with the Red Bulls, scoring memorable goals and leading the team towards a Supporters’ Shield last season.

Henry will be 37 this August, but he continues to show class at this level and is a pivotal performer for New York.

Will he call it a career this year? That remains up in the air.

“The only answer I can give you there is I have nothing to do with contract talks at all,” Petke said. “Andy Roxburgh signs the contracts with the players … I have had no talks with Thierry about his contract.

“His intentions, we have talked many times about his future. It’s early enough in the season that he has not given me an indication one way or the other, He is feeling good and playing well.

“As far as I am concerned, anything can happen.”

For now, the Red Bulls are sticking with their gameplan, but there is a very realistic possibility that NYCFC and the Red Bulls find themselves competing to acquire up to four combined DPs through this summer and beyond. Much of that will hinge on the future of Henry — and the purse strings of Red Bull GmbH.