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‘You will be happy to have me’: Klimala excited for Red Bulls chance as team heads to Foxboro

Newly-arrived striker spoke to media for the first time Thursday as he and Gerhard Struber discussed the Saturday showdown against New England

MLS: New York Red Bulls at Philadelphia Union Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports

Patryk is here...and he’s psyched about it.

Newly-signed New York Red Bulls striker Patryk Klimala cut a confident figure on Thursday in his first press conference since arriving in America. The 22-year-old Polish youth international who made his club debut as a substitute in last weekend’s loss in Philadelphia said he was excited to get started and that fans should be too.

“I am so so happy to be here - and you will be happy to have me,” said the upbeat forward as he discussed the move to New York and what attracted him to the Red Bulls after his career hit a stall at Scottish giants Celtic FC.

“It was in January that I first heard that Red Bulls were a team that was interested and we spoke in January. It is a good team with beautiful goals for the future and I was excited to come here.”

Klimala furthered expounded on the team’s style of play as an attraction as he looks to re-charge a young promising career following a struggle for playing time in Glasgow. “I like the Red Bull style....I think with Celtic we had to play a more tactical game (that didn’t suit me) but I know from all the Red Bull teams (around Europe) the style of play here...I like to fight and work in football and that’s what (Red Bull) is about. It’s a lot of direct balls to the strikers, direct balls behind the lines and that is how I like to play.”

However Red Bulls manager Gerhard Struber had already tempered some of the expectations surrounding Klimala earlier in the conference, stating that while he was excited and encouraged by the striker’s first moments in Philadelphia, he was cautious about overusing him as he gets back to full match fitness. “We have to be careful. He has had a long time since he last trained and we cannot give him too much of a load too quick.”

But Struber added that he is excited by Klimala and “the timing of his runs” in particular as he looks for more production out of an offense that will likely have to carry the team this season following the injury news earlier this week about Aaron Long. The center back is expected to miss the remainder of the season with an Achilles injury and Struber emphasized the difficulty of replacing a player with not only Long’s technical quality but also personal quality, stating “it’s an outstandingly painful moment for us. Aaron is a top man, a top human and a big leader for our team.”

Struber stated that he has had discussions this week with Kevin Thelwell and the sporting department as far as plans to replenish the center back position, however he emphasized that such discussions were long-term in scope and that in the meantime “we have to find a new Aaron Long - and that is not easy. He is not a normal player.”

However he expressed confidence in the ability of his current team to absorb such a difficult blow as well as individual confidence in Long’s likely replacement in the lineup, Colombian youth international Andres Reyes. “Right now we can handle this situation from within our roster. Andres has shown me good next steps and he is ready (to play against New England on Saturday.)”

But Struber also expressed an awareness of the challenges New England provides under veteran manager Bruce Arena, particularly focusing towards their play “on the ground” in tactical preparation and tape study this week. Defender Sean Nealis stated the team “expect Bruce to have those guys flying” and that the whole squad needed to put extra effort in to overcome the loss of a player as important as Long.

“Aaron was a huge player for this team and we know how hard it’s going to be. We all know we have to step up a little more and give a little more.”