Lloyd Sam, New York Red Bulls lament red card v Union

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The hunt for minutes has been a difficult one for Lloyd Sam.

Sunday’s red card certainly won’t help his situation.

Crossing paths with agitator Danny Cruz, Sam delivered a two legged stomp and could do little but bow his head and walk off the pitch as the referee pulled out a red card. The timing could not have been worse. The New York Red Bulls struggled mightily to find their legs in the opening stanza against the Philadelphia Union, down a goal just seven minutes into the match.

Getting an earful from team captain Thierry Henry on his way off the pitch certainly didn’t help matters either.

“I felt I let my team down,” Sam said after the match. “It was already a tough game with 11 so that wasn’t easy. He had a bad touch and we both went for the ball, which is something that happens in soccer all the time, but you have to go hard or you get hurt yourself.

“The ball was in front of me I’m not really sure how to go for that ball, but I would like to see the replay. Until then, I can’t really say.”

While New York came out flat after their three week layoff, few players or staff would dare point to that as a reason for their lackadaisical play. They were, however, quick to finger the red card as a possible, if not leading, culprit.

“Red card killed us,” head coach Mike Petke lamented. “But what also killed us was we did so well. A lot of it revolved around Thierry dropping because we were a man down. Giving the ball, turning, good combinations, getting to the final third. We miss, save, make a bad pass and they were right down our throat.

“When you are a man down, that will kill you.”

Red Bulls keeper Luis Robles made a similar observation.

“The first five minutes for us wasn’t the best start but then I thought we were better organized for the rest of the half and were unfortunate to get the red card with Lloyd,” he noted. “With the temperatures, conditions, down a man, down a goal, it makes things very difficult.”

It is hard to say what this means for Sam, but the outlook is not good. He was firmly in Petke’s doghouse after displaying an aloof attitude during preseason play. Learning from the setback, the young English winger earned his place amongst the eleven through weeks of positive play in late game appearances and spot starts. His first half meltdown not only affected the team against the Union, but will also further thin out the Red Bulls roster next week against Houston in a critical Eastern Conference showdown.

If a saving grace does exist, it may be this; Petke has taken the booking in stride.

“I think it’s a coin flip, especially in this league,” he said. “I don’t think he got it wrong. He made his decision and he made the call he thought was right. I do agree that he went hard – but for the ball.”

  • I think calling it a “stomp” is a bit harsh. I see him going for the ball when Cruz slides under his right foot, and then Sam slips a bit, bringing up his second foot. It was not an attempt to injure.

    • The red is debatable, but the fact that he went studs high on the challenge makes it a no-brainer to me. Looks like he attempted to yield but in the end, it was a stomp that could have led to worse for Cruz.

  • The straight red card for RBNY’s Lloyd Sam was technically sound refereeing because his studs were up on both feet. Even when there is no clear intent to injure the opposing player, as was the case here, a lot of referees will brandish the red card immediately for the offense and for deterrent effect. At PPL Park we saw TH14 jogging over to Sam and apparently speaking into his ear but we don’t know what he said. Was it an ‘earful’ or “infortune mon ami” – bad luck my friend?

  • I think he was trying to not to get another sprained PCL. No reason to do so as it was in the attacking 3rd. Hope this he responds like Miller.

    Dave – FYI the comments come out oddly formatted in a long column.