August was a rough month for the Red Bulls. A month that started with a big win over Sporting Kansas City in Sporting Park was followed up with a 2-0 road loss to the Columbus Crew, a draw against the Philadelphia Union and a road loss to the listless Chivas USA.
Tensions were a bit high before the month-closing Atlantic Cup finale against basement dwelling D.C. United, enough that Thierry Henry and Mike Petke nearly came to blows on the training field, with the two having to be separated.
The two seemed to make up the next day, but neither party wanted to discuss the incident. Henry ended up benched for the first 60 minutes that weekend against United, looking threatening in his substitute appearance. The next week the Red Bulls press corps pushed Henry on the matter, but, despite headlines claiming the contrary, mum was the word.
But now that things are a bit cheerier in camp -- two straight wins will do that for you -- Petke is finally ready to kind-of, sort-of come clean on the dust up.
The issue? Clarity of message on the training field.
Petke, per the New York Post's Brian Lewis...
"Whatever that disagreement was about, from that you can draw any conclusions you want and they're probably going to be right," Petke said Wednesday. "From that there's a clear understanding now, from that everybody's 100 percent on the same page, from that everybody has a clear understanding of the tactics.
"Without a doubt, one could be related from each other. They could be a product of each product. We had a situation and now the players' spirits are up."
Later in the story, Luis Robles would corroborate Petke's take on the skirmish.
So there you have it: Henry was frustrated with the lack of an explicit game plan. Petke heard him out (but still punished him). Both came out the other end a bit better off: Petke's a better coach, Henry likely understands his boss a bit better and the team's been playing better.
Really, the best possible outcome for something like this.