One day shy of July Fourth, the New York Red Bulls and Brazilian star midfielder Juninho were not in a mood for celebration.
The team announced his departure from the side a mere 24 hours prior to their encounter against the Colorado Rapids.
Since then, a few things have been learned. EOS reported a simmering philosophical and tactical conflict brewing between the highly decorated veteran and his rookie coach. But what drove him over the edge? Juninho answered that question at his introductory press conference with Vasco da Gama.
“On Friday, as I am sometimes wont to do on game days, I spoke with the physical trainer and said I would not train,” Juninho explained. “The coach did not accept it. I ended up arguing with the coach. He called me in the room Saturday with the interpreter and said I was not going to play on Sunday. I thought I was suffering a retaliation only for not training on Friday.
“Therefore, I communicated that I would not play for the club any long,” he said.
While revealing in a final statement on Facebook that his condition was also a factor in his decision, Juninho made clear that he had no intention of breaking his contract – up until that point.
“I had no intention of stopping,” he said. “I made the decision after the meeting and terminated my contract on Wednesday after the (Houston Dynamo match). The first club to look for me then was Vasco, but it was always clear that my intention is to play here. (Vasco President) Roberto (Dynamite) called me and offered a six month contract and hopefully I can help in any way.”
Juninho’s stay in New York was marred by early injuries, set backs and suspensions. While he led the team with four assists, he will be best remembered for a red card thanks to a point-blank shot of a dead ball into the chest of Sporting KC keeper Jimmy Nielsen.