Platitudes, Platitudes

Christian Petersen

The 2013 campaign kicks off this Sunday. I'm here to temper your excitement and remind you that things can change. Quickly (let's just hope it doesn't).

Two weeks ago when the Sporting News sat down with Tim Cahill and Dwayne De Rosario at the league's New York media blitz to talk about Hans Backe and his management of the Red Bulls their negative comments didn't really set the world on fire, because everyone knew they were coming.

After all, like Cahill said, it doesn't take "a rocket scientist to see what happened last season."

Cahill, along with Heath Pearce were positive on new Head Coach Mike Petke's appointment. He's American. He's understands the league. He's gone out of his way to make it comfortable for players and their families. He's ratcheted up the intensity in training.

More than enough to make us fans giddy for the Petke Era, right?

Well...only sort of. Remember the glowing reviews Back got at the start of last season? No?

In an ESPN Soccernet profile of the team's now-ex-head coach, Jan Gunnar Solli called him "dedicated" and "hungry." Stephen Keel said Backe was "awesome" and had his back. Dax McCarty said he imbues the team with a positive attitude and stays on an even keel.

It's important to note this because all the platitudes -- and that's exactly what they are, meaningless platitudes -- don't mean anything. Especially in the light of this week's media day.

Grant Wahl, in his informal, anonymous player survey, found Bruce Arena is the coach most players want to play for. Then, the Houston Dynamo's Dominic Kinnear and D.C. United's Ben Olsen. Then the San Jose Earthquakes Frank Yallop. Between them that's eight MLS Cups, four Supporters' Shields, a U.S. Open Cup and 10 conference championships (as coaches).

Winners. Those are the guys players want to play for. If the players are being truthful (and they might very well be, who knows?) Petke might be promising. He might even be ultra successful right off the bat. But things can turn. As we saw with Backe, they can go from supportive, dedicated and determined to win to a guy who can't motivate and runs a mess of an organization.

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