Harrison, NJ – Injuries and suspensions have hit Red Bull New York hard in recent weeks, but the club will have to find a way to cope in time for its home clash against its Eastern Conference rivals, New England Revolution, on Saturday.
Teemu Tainio is still out of action, Wilman Conde has yet to return, Roy Miller picked up a knock on his knee, and Rafa Marquez will have to sit out another two matches for his three-game ban. And that was all before its last match.
The Red Bulls are coming off of a humiliating 4-1 loss to D.C. United, but injuries to two key players added further insult to injury. Stephen Keel and Jan Gunnar Solli were added to New York's growing list of injury-ridden regulars.
"Keel is out for minimum three weeks," Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe told reporters after Wednesday's practice. "It's a stress fracture in his back. That has been going on for a while. A stress fracture is over a period of time. So it was so, so stiff that he went for a scan and it���s a stress fracture.
"Solli has a scan today. His calf, he got a really bad hit against D.C. Hopefully it's just a formality that it's nothing else."
New York's depleted squad means that Backe will almost certainly have to field several inexperienced players in the back line, likely to be Tyler Ruthven, Connor Lade and Jonathan Borrajo joining a struggling Markus Holgersson in defense.
The Red Bulls' defensive frailties this season are no secret - they still have yet to keep a clean sheet. With the Revolution showing intermittent signs of promise on the offensive end this season, they could be poised to grab some goals at Red Bull Arena on Saturday.
But first-year head coach Jay Heaps does not want to see an open match on the road, stating that he hopes to bunker down and neutralize a potent New York attack that features two of the league's top scorers in Kenny Cooper and Thierry Henry.
"We want to be stronger defensively," Heaps told the club's website. "When we play an open game, we want it to be an attacking, open game, but we don't want to expose ourselves. When we play well, we push the game, but at the same time we know that if we lose possession, we're not exposing ourselves to open up that game.
"We don't want it to be an open game," Heaps continued. "We want it to be open when we want it to be open and pretty tight when we need it to be. Those are the challenges when good teams start playing well. They know how to open it up and close it as quickly as they do open it."