Ahead of what might just be the most important two weeks in franchise history, the New York Red Bulls are set to test their much-vaunted depth.
There is likely to be squad rotation for the Red Bulls over the next couple of weeks as the schedule includes a tough road match at Orlando City this Saturday afternoon before they depart central Florida to head to Mexico City. They will then play Mexican club Chivas in the first leg of the semifinal series of the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League, a match that carries all sorts of significance for the club and the league.
Beating Orlando will be no easy task, although the home side is 0-2-1 with just a single point to start the season. They are a revamped side that includes Sacha Kljestan, the former Red Bulls captain who spent the last three years in New York. The squad is replete with playmakers and has potential to be among the best Starting XI’s in the league if they can put it all together.
Coming off Saturday’s 3-0 win over Minnesota United FC, there are some good building blocks in place for the Red Bulls, as they hope to continue their solid start to the year.
Jonathan Yardley and Shep Messing recap the action from the Red Bulls' 3-0 win over Minnesota United at Red Bull Arena.
“There [were] some good things in Minnesota, good to get three points at home. We looked at some things that we thought we could have done better in that game. I think there’s still plenty of room for improvement. The focus for us has to be for us to continue to move forward. We’re looking forward to Orlando,” head coach Jesse Marsch said Tuesday following training.
[Watch Red-Bulls-Montreal April 14 on MSG & MSG GO. Download the app for free.]
“It’s a team that needs a point, they’re desperate for points. There is a lot of pressure on them after the offseason they had with the players’ acquisitions to get their team rolling. We know it’s a tough team to play there with a quality team with quality players. We have to make sure now that we go down there and have a clear idea of what we want the game to look like and ready to execute.”
Saturday’s league match isn’t a throwaway by any stretch, but the priority is clearly on the Champions League. Expect changes on Saturday with an eye towards a full, first-team lining up next week in Mexico.
It might not be a complete overhaul of the roster, however. The Red Bulls do play early on Saturday and have three full days to regenerate and get ready for the away leg. After Wednesday’s match, they have that weekend off before hosting the second leg at Red Bull Arena on April 10.
Chivas is a tough side, having dispatched the Seattle Sounders in the quarterfinals. The game will be played at altitude, but New York is eyeing what should be a good challenge.
“This is huge, we’ve been looking forward to this since we won our last Champions League game. We’re excited to go down there to a historic team, a historic stadium,” defender Aaron Long said. “We can’t wait. First things first, we need to get through Orlando. But yeah, we can’t for it, it’s going to be awesome.”
RED BULLS NOTES
- Cristian Cásseres had a sharp training session on Tuesday. The 18-year old midfielder was active in the team’s weekly ‘Tournament Day’ and showed off several nice, deft touches. The Venezuelan youngster has yet to make his debut with the senior team, but did start for the USL side New York Red Bulls II on Saturday in Atlanta.
Coming off a knock he suffered during the preseason, his showing in training was welcome news.
“He’s close I think. He trained fully today. We’ll start to get him more and more USL minutes and find moments to inject him with the first team at the right time,” Marsch said. “We think he’s a good player, he had a great day today in training. Like him a lot.”
- Marsch said that he didn’t request a minute-limit for Tyler Adams, who was called up to the United States national team for Tuesday’s match against Paraguay.
- A thigh injury doesn’t appear to be too bad for center back Fidel Escobar, although it might keep the young defender out a couple of weeks.
Escobar got hurt recently while away with Panama’s national team although his club side isn’t sure the genesis of the injury.
[Watch the Red-Bulls Take on the Montreal Impact April 14 on MSG & MSG GO. Download the app for free.]