New York Red Bulls aglow over Peguy Luyindula’s play

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

After spending most of 2013 as the odd man out in the New York Red Bull roster, Peguy Luyindula finally found his place at the most vital time, playing a major contributing role as a distributive midfielder en route to the Supporter’s Shield.

He provided a dynamic presence where there once was none, sparking New York to a vital late season run. He was sorely missed in the playoffs as coach Mike Petke decided to bench his starter for the second leg of the quarterfinal series against Houston — an encounter they would ultimately lose.

After an exhaustive offseason search for a creative midfielder fell flat, Petke is once again turning to the French veteran to add that spark early this offseason, and so far, he has liked what he has seen.

“If I only had one wish, we would have got him 10 years ago,” Petke quipped. “But for his age and what we expect out of him, we are very satisfied with Peguy.”

Luyindula appeared in the midfield against the Philadelphia Union and as a withdrawn forward against Sporting KC. Both times, he played a visible role as a pesky ball winner and distributive factor. “Peguy sitting behind the forward, then getting forward, commanding the ball, commanding the field a bit, I was glad what I saw out of him,” Petke said after the Sporting KC defeat Wednesday evening.

“He has a great attitude. When he has the ball at his feet to hold it, there are not many guys in this league that have the experience and the ability to hold the ball like that.”

That ability to win a ball, control possession and move the attack forward has morphed Luyindula from his natural forward position to the role of an advancing midfielder at the tender age of 34. With the desire to move Tim Cahill up top alongside Thierry Henry, Luyindula holds the key to making that transition a reality.

So far, he is living up to the task.

“I think we are very satisfied with Peguy,” Petke says.