Luyindula believes he can make a difference for Red Bulls

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

Around this time last year, the New York Red Bulls embarked on perhaps the single most important and successful stretch of games in club history.

Peguy Luyindula was a key figure in that chase, leading New York with four assists through the team’s final two must-win matches to lift the first trophy in Red Bull history.

Despite his accomplishments, he was benched for the second leg of the playoffs against the Houston Dynamo, unable to see the pitch until the 106th minute of overtime. By then, it was too late to make much of a difference.

That scenario serves as a microcosm for the veteran striker-turned-midfielder. While arguably the team’s most creative option in the middle, a glut at midfield has made it difficult for Luyindula to break into the starting XI.

“If the question is if I would like to play, I would like to play — from the beginning. Not just from early. Right from the start,” Luyindula tells EOS. “Yes, of course there are so many midfielders that can play in the midfield and offer support to Bradley [Wright-Phillips] so ya, that is a big war for that spot. Right now, we are really looking forward to winnings game and take the team back together because we need to step forward and get points to get back into playoff position.”

The Frenchman sits just behind stalwart midfielder Dax McCarty and team talisman Tim Cahill in the depth charts. By no means can Luyindula be mistaken for a defensive midfielder, so challenging McCarty is out of the question. Instead, he finds himself in a direct weekly competition for minutes with Cahill — a spot few would be able to overcome.

Cahill has enjoyed a history of success in his short time with the team. Head coach Mike Petke depends on his moments of magic to salvage points, even when things look their darkest. A clear example came just this weekend in the loss against D.C. Despite clearly showing signs of exhaustion, Petke elected to ride out the entire match with Cahill at midfield. It was a gamble Petke based upon history and a testament to the talent of the all-purpose Australian.

That gamble turned sour. By the time a gassed Cahill made way for Luyindula in the 90th minute, there was little the Frenchman could do to change the game.

“I know I can provide some things to the team and give my experience and am willing to run, score and pass the ball,” he explains. “I think it would be a good asset for the team, so yes, I would like to play more, but at the end of the day, there is only one boss and he has the right to put me in, even for 10 seconds. That’s what it is.”

Luyindula will surely see more action this month, especially as the team enters a brutal fixture which will include CONCACAF Champions League and regular season matches to the tune of seven games in 22 days. There, he can make his statement for minutes. But off the field? He doesn’t plan on rocking the boat. At this juncture in the season, it is team first, and Luyindula wants to relive the glory of last season in any capacity possible.

“We have to think as a team, not just ourselves,” he said. “The selfishness is out. We have to think about everyone of us. If we want to win titles and the experiences like last year that we enjoyed so much, we have to think about one thing — the team.

“It’s not a problem of creativity. It’s more about team shape and spacing and the rest will go. That is what I believe deeply inside. Today, we know we can score, we know we have to work together to not concede any goals because at some point, we will score goals. We have to figure it out and go back to being the way it was.”

  • sosa

    The fact we even have him is a gift. If it wasn’t for an old friendship with Henry, Peguy wouldn’t even be at the club (or in the USA). He is a very different type of player from traditional MLS midfielders and he needs to be utilized more. He isn’t always perfect, but he brings a totally different look to the midfield, he’s excellent with space in front of him and he can pick a decent pass out. He’s old, get him in the games before he can’t play anymore…