Returning Red Bull hero Cahill brings World Cup form back to New York

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

By MATTHEW LEVINE
Staff Writer

Before the World Cup, Tim Cahill struggled with injuries, and as a result form. However, he found it once more for the Socceroos of Australia, scoring twice in World Cup action while serving up two world-class strikes.

That form came back on the plane with him to New York.

Coming in as a late substitute in the 78th minute, Cahill did for the Red Bulls what he has done throughout most of his time with the team; play the catalyst. After a long and hopeful ball from Matt Miazga soared towards the edge of the box, Cahill rose, flicking the ball with his head to find Bradley Wright-Phillips, who finished with aplomb in second half stoppage time.

“I spoke with the boss and he said ‘Will you be available?” and I said of course I’ll be available and here we are tonight, got fifteen minutes or whatever it was and just happy to be able to contribute to the team’s result today,” said Cahill.

After getting a rousing applause when he was shown on the big screen in front of an announced crowd of 20,176, he gained another one as he stepped on to the pitch. Head coach Mike Petke had always planned to use him, but was hoping the circumstances would have been different. After all, Cahill had only just arrived from Brazil Friday morning, unable to take part in a single training with the club.

Despite his plans, the game needed an impact player, and there was only one obvious choice sitting on the bench.

“I was hoping to bring Tim on in the 88th minute up 3-0 so the fans could clap him for the wonderful World Cup he had,” Petke said. “Obviously things change with the score, with the way the game went and we felt to bring Tim on for 15-20 minutes perhaps something could happen and obviously it did at the end.”

Cahill immediately won a few aerial duels, and knew that he was going to keep winning them as long as the chances came. That’s exactly what he did on the assist.

“They come to challenge a few times beforehand and couldn’t win the header and I thought that it’d be smart to back off and get my second ball. But overall, that’s the mind games you play with center backs, [Steve] Caldwell and the other guy at the back are massive and they won everything all day,” Cahill said.

“But as soon as I won two headers before that they didn’t want to come and challenge and have the physical battle, but once I seen them peel off they went backwards without looking where their man was and it was just nice to put it in a good area for Bradley to finish. The way he finishes he just needs the ball in front of his body and it was nice that he could execute the finish off the flick on.”

Coming back into the team after playing hero in the World Cup and traveling back did take it’s toll.  That is something even Cahill managed to admit after the match.  However, travel is nothing new to the Australian international, and the Socceroo legend has his fair share of experience to make the necessary adjustments to be ready straightaway to play in MLS after the international matches.

“I suppose it’s tough to an extent, but it’s something I’ve done my whole career. I think the best thing more than anything was my decision to come to the MLS, to play internationally in my third World Cup and the calculated decision being great domestically,” said Cahill.

“The league, the club, the fans, the success we had last season now looking for more success and on top of that, having two of the best moments in my footballing history with a goal against Chile and one against the Netherlands. I’m proud that the MLS and New York Red Bulls have played a part in that. I know people were questioning, I left the Premier League to play in another World Cup, to be in a great league.”

From the moment Cahill stepped into the match, it was clear what the Red Bulls have been missing throughout most of this meandering campaign.  Their talisman had returned to once again save the day, just as he did for Australia in the World Cup.

His main focus is once again on the Red Bulls.  As for that international career, Cahill has already sworn off the 2018 World Cup.  However, that doesn’t mean he is done with his Socceroos.

“Yeah, we’ll see exactly what the plans are for the coach [for the Asian Cup]. But overall for me, I’m committed to playing as much football as possible and trying to do the best I can for my club,” he said.


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