We have some links for you in getting ready for today’s huge MLS Cup Playoffs match against D.C. United:
- Franco Panizo (@FrancoPanizo) was on Hans Backe’s conference call and reported on the status of the team heading into tonight’s match.
- Michael Lewis (@BigAppleSoccer) has several stories on the match-up on BigAppleSoccer.com.
There were many storylines surrounding Red Bulls defender and AT&T Man of the Match Brandon Barklage Sunday night following New York’s 3-2 win over rival D.C. United: His two well-taken goals against his former club, the terrific story of how he came back from a pair of ACL tears and how his single effort helped the Red Bulls work their way into a first-place tie in the Eastern Conference.
But what was some of the scuttlebutt about on social media and around the Red Bulls locker room this morning? Why was Barklage shirtless on set during his NBC Sports Network post-game interview?
“After the game, I went and applauded the fans and thanked them for their support. I decided to hand out my jersey to a fan and I didn’t realize I was going on national television right after! It just so happened it was the case,” he said.
“We’re just happy we got the three points, especially against a team that was first place heading into the match.”
For the lucky fan in the South Ward who got Barklage’s jersey, tweet a photo of it to @newyorkredbulls and we’ll make sure to RT it.
TUCSON, AZ - The New York Red Bulls head into their third Tucson Desert Diamond Cup game tomorrow evening looking for a strong performance against defending MLS Cup Champion, the LA Galaxy.
New York is seeking its first win in the preseason tournament after falling to Real Salt Lake and the New England Revolution in the past week. However, head coach Hans Backe’s side will certainly be without Icelandic midfielder Victor Palsson, who has suffered a knee injury.
“I think hopefully it’s quite a soft injury,” Backe said. “It’s a small tear in his meniscus that will keep him out from, I would guess hopefully, maximum seven to 10 days.”
A pair of players who Backe does expect to feature tomorrow is defender Wilman Conde and midfielder Teemu Tainio. Conde has been making his return to match fitness over the past several weeks and earned his first minutes when he played the opening 35 in a 2-0 loss to New England last Saturday. Backe said that Conde will feature for the entire first half against LA and a decision will be made at halftime to see if he could play further.
As for Tainio, who was hampered with a calf injury a few weeks ago in Mexico, Backe expects the Finn to build on his 45-minute performance against Pumas in Phoenix last Thursday.
“He’s back. He was out for two weeks and you can see it. Every player missing two weeks, you’re perhaps not 100 percent sharp, but he has no pain…and that’s good and hopefully, he can do at least 60 minutes,” Backe said.
As opposed to the opening two matches where he used a younger lineup, Backe expects to field a more veteran side Wednesday night. The Red Bulls will also be missing the services of defenders Rafa Marquez (Mexico) and Roy Miller (Costa Rica), midfielder Joel Lindpere (Estonia) and forward Juan Agudelo (U.S. U-23 MNT) due to international duty.
PHOENIX - A busy day here in Arizona, as the Red Bulls have two matches in two days. The players involved in tonight’s Desert Diamond Cup match against Real Salt Lake, tonight at 10:00 PM ET, traveled to Tucson this morning to rest up for the game. Meanwhile, those featuring in tomorrow night’s clash against UNAM Pumas at Chase Field as part of “Red Bull Reto del Sol” trained this morning at Grand Canyon University. The coaching staff will travel to Tucson later this afternoon for the Real Salt Lake game. Check out the match preview, where we caught up with Mike Petke and Corey Hertzog.
Regarding tonight’s match and all of the Desert Diamond Cup games, make sure you go to www.mlssoccer.com, which will be providing a live stream and commentary from Allen Hopkins, Brian Dunseth and Greg Lalas. We will also be providing periodic updates on our Twitter account and have a full recap and reaction after the match.
For “Red Bull Reto del Sol” on Thursday, Steve Cangialosi and Shep Messing will call the game starting at 10:00 PM ET live on MSG+. The match will also be shown nationally on ESPN Deportes and ESPN3.
Here are a few other notes:
- Guest player and midfielder Andrew Welker joined the squad yesterday and could play tonight.
- Defender Wilman Conde is making progress to earn a preseason debut within the next few days. Conde was working himself into match fitness in the first preseason trip to Mexico and did not play in a game.
- Midfielder Teemu Tainio, who was afflicted with a calf strain during the Mexico trip, is back training fully with the team.
- Look to start seeing more Red Bulls play 90 minutes in these preseason matches starting tonight with the season being less than three weeks away.
Check out this photo gallery from the past couple of days of training here in Arizona:
Riviera Maya - Red Bulls rookie defender Connor Lade played the second half in New York’s 2-0 win over FC Dallas Tuesday, helping New York earn a shutout in its first preseason match. The former St. John’s University and Red Bulls Academy product, who officially signed with the club on Dec. 5, has been looking to make his mark in the first few weeks of preseason, featuring mainly as a left back in training and against Dallas. We caught up with Lade after training Thursday:
Talk about how preseason camp has been going for you.
It’s been going really well. I’m really excited to be in here around a great group of guys and just focusing on improving every day. The coaching staff is really good at giving feedback to you, it’s a learning experience and I’m enjoying every minute of it.
Many first-year players coming from the college game notice the higher level of play in the pros. Is this something that you have seen?
Absolutely. You have to come in and transition right away and it’s a much higher level of quality. You just really have to work on adjusting as fast as you can and I feel like … I’m starting to get more comfortable and focusing on improving every day.
You played your last two years at St. John’s at centerback but the coaching staff has used you on the left. How has that adjustment been so far?
It’s been really good. I grew up playing that position all of my life and actually, was fortunate enough to play the first two years of college there before transitioning to centerback. It’s been a really good transition and I’m excited to get back on the wing because that’s my preferred spot to play.
Off the field, how has the chemistry been with the other guys?
It’s been great. [The team] got to zip line yesterday so that was a really cool experience. I actually had never done that before but I’ve heard good things about it. [I have been] hanging out with the guys by the beach and overall, we have a lot of jokers on the team so it’s a fun environment to be in.
How do you think you played against FC Dallas Tuesday?
I thought I had a good performance. It was hot but just getting back into it, it felt good to play a game again and put the hard work we’ve been putting in preseason camp actually into a match.
Riviera Maya - One of the new faces in Red Bulls camp this year is defender Markus Holgersson, who signed with New York on Jan. 12 after a successful stint with Swedish Allsvenskan side, Helsingborg. The 26-year-old central defender, recently coming off his first Swedish National Team call-up and debut, caught up with us after Friday morning’s practice for a quick Q&A.
How did the move come about?
MH: I was contacted by Erik Soler and there was a meeting and so on. After that, it came together fast. It was nice that he talked to me and I think New York has a great team and is a great city. It was a good choice I think.
What did you know before about American soccer and MLS?
MH: Not so much before I met Erik. But he told me a lot and I asked some other guys who have been here and now I know more.
For fans who are not familiar with you, talk about what type of player you are.
MH: I’m a central defender who wants read the game and make sure that I’m in the right position so I can win the ball that way. I (also provide) a lot of talking and leadership to get the line of the defense organized.
What attracted you to coming to New York?
MH: First, it’s a good league. I think it’s a little bit better than the Swedish League. There are really good players here – you see Henry, Beckham and Rafa Marquez playing. Second, it’s the adventure. I like to travel and see a lot, so I think it’s going to personally be very good.
You were recently called up for your first Swedish National Team camp and earned your first cap (Jan. 23, 2012 in a 5-0 over Qatar). What was that experience like for you?
MH: That was really exciting, really nice to even have one game. I think it’s really nice too for the Swedish team so I really enjoyed it.
There are several Scandinavians on the team. Has that made it easier for you to adjust?
MH: It’s much easier. Hans (Backe) is from Sweden and I talk a lot with [Norwegian Jan Gunnar] Solli and the other guys, so it’s must easier to come in. But the other guys are always open and talk a lot, so I think it’s easy to come into this team.
How’s Solli as a roommate so far?
MH: (Laughs) He’s a little bit crazy but he’s fun.