Juninho and Red Bulls Part Ways

New York and Juninho separate after 13 games played
by Daniel Feuerstein   |   Thursday, July 04, 2013

Branded Bulls – column on Red Bull NY (RBNY – NYRB) & the New Jersey area soccer scene.

Before Mike Petke was ever considered to be anointed as manager of the New York Red Bulls, the club already made a decision to bring over 38-year-old Juninho Pernambucano from Vasco De Gama in Brazil.

The hope was to see him attempt the booming free kicks he is known for in his career to strike fear in the minds of other MLS clubs.

While he looked good in the preseason for Petke’s side, the truth was showing at the start of the season in Portland. He simply didn’t have it anymore and it showed when he took free kicks for the Red Bulls. They were either hitting the wall, or just over the wall and falling short of goal.

Of course the only successful free kick he took was the Tim Cahill winner against the Los Angeles Galaxy inside 2nd half stoppage time on Sunday, May 19.

Let’s also not forget his intentional kicking of the ball at the right shoulder of Jimmy Nielson from Sporting Kansas City when the goalkeeper was wasting time and Juninho, who was frustrated with Nielsen’s act, decided to take matters into his own hands. Kicking the ball at Nielson led Juninho to a sending off at the end of the match in Red Bull Arena on Wednesday, April 17.

The reason for Juninho coming over to the Red Bulls at such an age was because the New York staff thought he could produce results like the prolific David Beckham could.

But sadly Juninho never had the type of magic in half a season that Beckham was able to give in his full MLS stint.

When you bring a 38-year-old, who looked frustrated and lost, to a team he wasn’t capable of producing for, whose fault is it? You can't blame RBNY General Manager Jerome de Bontin nor Sporting Director Andy Roxburgh.

The fault of this farce is squarely on the shoulders of Gerard Houllier, who is the Red Bulls director of global soccer and the former head coach of Olympique Lyonnais, who had Juninho back in his prime.

This man, who has had plenty of success in Europe as a club manager and as the manager of the France National Team, contacted his old friend Juninho, who was playing back in his home country of Brazil, and enticed him to come to MLS and get 1 season in.

Thankfully, this debacle didn’t have a designated player contract attached to it, but it goes to show that someone who’s had a great career in the world’s game and makes an attempt in MLS at a very late stage shouldn’t have bothered in the first place.

And now with this subtraction before heading to Colorado and face the fireworks against the Rapids in their annual July 4 game, we shall see what happens with the depth the Red Bulls have.

Because at the moment midfield is a huge question mark before the summer transfer window comes about. Yet whatever targets were considered shelved should be brought back to the table and discussed for the final stretch run, before the playoffs come around the corner.

NEXT UP: July 4 – Colorado Rapids vs. New York Red Bulls, Dick's Sporting Goods Park, Commerce City, Colo. 9:30 p.m., MSG.


Ramapo College
Club Domestic:
Red Bull NY
Club Foreign:
PSG, ManU, Maccabbi Haifa
Original New York Cosmos fan, reborn soccer fan since 1994 USA World Cup. Feuerstein’s Fire podcast host. Covers NY Red Bulls for SN, and promotes all levels of American soccer from both sides of issues.