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June 2013 an Exercise in Patience for NY Red Bulls and Fans

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | Everyone made it out of June 2013 alive, New York Red Bulls fans. The "Petke Out" crowd that only somewhat seriously hit out at first-time Major League Soccer boss Mike Petke following New York's 3-0 dismantling at the hands of the Philadelphia Union on June 23 was silenced seven days later thanks to a more ugly than emphatic 2-0 Red Bulls victory over a Houston Dynamo side that were missing Brad Davis and Boniek García. There's a lesson to be learned from all that's occurred in RBNY Land over the past month, and it's that the 2013 Red Bulls will likely remain a work in progress through and even past the dead of summer leading into the fall postseason tournament.

This past June wasn't your typical "summer swoon" that you saw from New York under former head coach Hans Backe. It was more, for lack of a better term, wonky. That the Red Bulls remain second in the MLS East in total points and points per game despite failing to win a single league contest in over a month (their last victory in MLS play before this past Sunday occurred back on May 19) shows that there was never any real reason for RBNY supporters to panic.

It also shows that the MLS East is filled with plenty of average and below-average sides.

New York's June began with a disheartening 2-1 loss at home to Vancouver Whitecaps, who, like the Red Bulls, are currently averaging 1.56 points per game. One really can't put any blame on Petke for that defeat, as a trio of miscues in the defensive third resulted in the hosts going down a man and surrendering two goals in the second half. Those types of games just happen in a long season. Montreal Impact, atop the MLS East table and earning a league-best 1.93 points per game, and defending champs LA Galaxy suffered similar losses on the final Saturday of June.

You have to eliminate the US Open Cup loss at New England Revolution from any RBNY June review. Knockout competitions are often wacky, and I refuse to take any game played on a surface that's barely fit for a third-tier side as anything other than a one-off. Moving along.

The loss at Philly hurt, especially for the hundreds upon hundreds of New York supporters who made the trek to PPL Park only to see that their team hadn't bothered to show up. That defeat, a gut-punch on that sunny Sunday afternoon, merely proved what many analysts have been saying about the Red Bulls since the end of spring: Without Tim Cahill (international duty) and Jamison Olave (red card suspension) in the team, the Red Bulls aren't winning much of anything. Depth issues and a questionable red card, not the team's head coach, doomed New York on that day.

Just as New York's three June defeats meant very little outside of their pursuit of the Supporters' Shield, nobody should be at all alarmed if the Red Bulls fail to earn three points at Colorado Rapids on July 4. Dick's Sporting Goods Park has been far from kind to New York over the past five years, and the Red Bulls will be traveling to play in the altitude on very little rest. A draw on Thursday night would be a wonderful result for Petke's Army.

The Red Bulls are on pace to finish no worse than sixth in the overall league standings. If not for the great play of teams like the Montreal Impact, Portland Timbers, Real Salt Lake and FC Dallas, Petke would be a legitimate Coach of the Year candidate at the start of July. Petke out?

You're out to lunch.

Zac has been covering the USMNT, Holland, Tottenham Hotspur, New York Red Bulls, Major League Soccer and other soccer leagues for Yahoo! Sports since 2010.

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