The Red Bulls will head back to the pitch Friday against Toronto FC, as Major League Soccer takes center stage on a day when the World Cup takes a break (coverage begins at 7:30 PM on MSG+).
Both teams will be missing key players due to World Cup duty. With Costa Rica moving on to the knockout stages of the World Cup, starting left back Roy Miller will once again not be available for New York. TFC will be without their midfield maestro, Michael Bradley, due to his World Cup commitments with the US men’s national team.
It’s imperative for the Red Bulls to get a result in this one due to the standings. New York holds the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference and is just one point behind Toronto. Coach Mike Petke will no doubt be targeting this match – a home fixture in the friendly confines of Red Bull Arena – as one to pick up three points.
The good news is that New York will have the services of Thierry Henry back in the starting XI. The Red Bulls’ captain missed the team’s last match before the World Cup break, but, according to coach, the French star should be fresh and raring to go for the Friday’s encounter.
“Well, Thierry’s been here since Monday,” Petke said to the media in a conference call Tuesday. “He did double days in Brazil with our trainer that travelled with him so he is good to go. He’s had a great week of practice so far, so he’s good to go.”
More uncertain is the status of Tim Cahill for Friday’s game. Australia was eliminated from the World Cup and Cahill didn’t feature in the Socceroos final group stage game against Spain to suspension, but Petke wouldn’t tip his hand to the media on whether his vice-captain would be with the team Friday.
“Tim always wants to play, of course. The fact of the matter is that, as the coach and the coaching staff, we have to look at many aspects of it. Not just if the player wants to play – they all want to play – but the fact that we’ve had a full week of training leading up to this. Tim’s travel schedule, which is a long, long, flight from Brazil, and the amount he’s been going, going, going could be counter-productive. As always with me, I’m not putting any labels on anything or making me make decisions but, we’ve had three solid days of practice with two ahead of us leading up to the game. We’re going to do what’s best for the team.”
Petke did reveal that Dax McCarty is likely to miss the game due to his lingering knee injury and the earliest the midfielder might be available for the Red Bulls is their July 4 encounter against the Dynamo in Houston.