It appears as if even new Red Bulls are not immune to the team’s ongoing injury crisis.
Heath Pearce has been declared out due to a hamstring injury suffered late in the Red Bulls’ 1-1 draw against Toronto FC last Saturday. With Markus Holgersson and Rafa Marquez also both expected to be out for New York’s clash vs. the New England Revolution this Sunday (MSG+, 6:30 p.m.), the Red Bulls will be called upon to shuffle their backline for the umpteenth time.
“We’re missing too many players,” coach Hans Backe said after Friday’s practice. “I don’t think we’ve played with the same team two games in a row, so we always have to sub players.”
It has to be extremely frustrating for Backe to have to keep changing his center-back pairing, especially when it seemed the Red Bulls were developing some solidity in defense. Just when it looked like Marquez had finally found form during the Bulls’ 3-2 win over DC United on June 24, a calf injury forced the Mexican to miss the match against TFC.
Wilman Conde is expected to start — despite suffering through his own litany of injuries — alongside either the returning-from-injury Stephen Keel or young Tyler Ruthven, who impressed in his brief stint during the Red Bulls’ recent unbeaten run. None of the three center backs have ever started a game with one another, so a lack of chemistry will be a worry for New York heading into New England.
Surfing the Turf
For any battered soccer player, the daunting task of playing a 90-minute match on artificial turf is can be punishing.
While most MLS stadiums are now grass fields, Gilette Stadium — home to the NFL’s New England Patriots, as well as the Revs — is an artificial-turf field. It’s a concern for Backe, who probably won’t risk his designated players, Thierry Henry and the already-injured Marquez, for the match.
Despite the Red Bulls woeful record in Foxboro — New York is winless since June 2002 away to the Revolution — the coach thinks the team will be able to get by and succeed.
“I think our players are quite OK with the turf,” he said. “It’s a different game [on turf], definitely.
Kenny Cooper was diplomatic when asked about playing on turf.
“It’s just something you have to deal with and accept in this league,” the striker said.”
Nesta to Montreal
In a previous post, I had mentioned the possibility of former Italian international Alessandro Nesta joining the Red Bulls.
The former AC Milan defender is coming to the MLS, but not to New York. The 36-year-old signed a deal Friday with the Montreal Impact — surprisingly not as a designated player — and, in his introductory press conference, took a shot at the Red Bulls, who held first priority on him.
“There were negotiations with New York, but in the end, I felt like they didn’t want me much,” he said to mlssoccer.com. “There was a certain degree of intent on their part, but as a player, you want to know you’re important to a club. That’s how the Montreal Impact made me feel.”
In exchange for first priority on Nesta, the Red Bulls did acquire allocation money, something that could be used for a designated player down the line.
Let’s Go to the Video Tape!
Finally, FIFA has decided to move into the 21st century and implement goal-line technology.
Using “Hawk-Eye”, a tool used in tennis, referees will now be able to determine accurately if a ball crosses over the goal-line or not. Sounds like common sense, right?
For whatever reason, the heads at FIFA — particularly President/strong man Sepp Blatter — had been thoroughly opposed to using technology. Why? No one really knows. Whatever the reasoning, it’s finally good to see FIFA get its act together, albeit years after it should have implemented it.
There’s no word yet of US-implementation of goal-line technology, but the first international use of GLT is expected to be the 2013 Confederations Cup. Major domestic leagues such as the English Premier League are mulling some type of usage in the near future.