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As you'll see in the photos below, the guys got in a light session on the pitch today, complete with the return of Captain Thierry Henry. Head Coach Hans Backe, Henry and Rafa Marquez also took part in a press conference following practice.
In case you missed it earlier, here's the full list of players attending training in Arizona. Also worth noting (since a number of you were asking): forward Juan Agudelo is not with the team, as he was recently called up to the US U-23 squad in Frisco, TX. The good news is his ankle is healing well ahead of schedule.
Remember, Thursday's game against Pumas UNAM will broadcast on MSG+ at 10pm ET.
With that, let's get to some photos:
The team arrived in Phoenix yesterday afternoon in preparation for the second round of preseason play, the final leg of exhibitions before the season kicks off in Dallas on Mar. 11. New York finished 1-0-2 in the preseason tour through Mexico and will play five more games in Arizona over the next two weeks. Thursday's Reto del Sol match against Pumas UNAM will broadcast live on MSG+ starting at 10pm ET.
We'll have more updates coming your way soon, but in the meantime here is the list of players that traveled with the team to Arizona:
2- Teemu Tainio
3- Jonathan Borrajo
4- Rafa Marquez
5- Markus Holgersson
6- Corey Hertzog
7- Roy Miller
8- Jan Gunnar Solli
10- Mehdi Ballouchy
11- Dax McCarty
12- Wilman Conde
13- Leobardo Alvarez*
14- Thierry Henry
15- Tyler Ruthven*
16- Connor Lade
18- Ryan Meara
19- Dane Richards
20- Joel Lindpere
22- Stephen Keel
23- Ryan Maduro*
24- Jeremy Vuolo
25- Brandon Barklage*
26- Giorgi Chirgadze*
27- Jhonny Arteaga*
31- Ray Burse*
32- Jose Angulo*
33- Kenny Cooper
40- Phillip Tuttle*
44- Victor Palsson
91- Willis Forko*
Montclair - Juan Agudelo’s ankle sprain, an injury he sustained last month while playing with the U.S. Men’s National Team, is progressing ahead of schedule.
“We didn’t [think] he could play anything in Mexico because of his injury,” said assistant coach Jan Halvorsen from the campus of Montclair State University. “But he has done well the last four or five days in the camp, in training. The medical staff said that he actually could play 20 minutes in the last game.”
Agudelo came on as a sub in the 75th minute of the Tecos match, the final meeting of the team’s preseason trip through Mexico (Watch Highlights). Chances were limited on both sides of the pitch at that point, culminating in a 1-1 tie 15 minutes later, but it was refreshing for Agudelo to make his way onto the pitch and test out his ankle.
“It was good. Good to finally get back,” he said. “To recover from the injury, that took like a month or three weeks. It was really boring. And to finally get on the field, it felt good.”
U.S. Soccer announced Thursday that Agudelo would be joining the U-23 squad as they aim to take on Mexico’s U-23 on Wednesday, Feb. 29. Agudelo stated that his ankle feels about “90 percent,” but that he does have to work on his fitness ahead of the trip to Frisco, TX.
“I realized that I need to play to be happy. And when I started playing my mood started to get better and stuff like that," Agudelo said. "It’s just tough because watching your teammates play and just wishing that you were just there, it’s tough to watch and just be on a bike, and just peddling nowhere.”
The Red Bulls leave for the second leg of the preseason Monday and will face Mexican side Pumas UNAM on Feb. 23 as part of Reto Del Sol (Tickets Available Here). From there the team will jet off to Tucson to compete in the FC Tucson Desert Diamond Cup.
Guadalajara - And that's that. The Red Bulls played Tecos to a 1-1 draw Tuesday night in Guadalajara, wrapping up the third and final game of the Mexican preseason and finishing the run with a 1-0-2 record (Full Recap).
Forward Kenny Cooper launched one heck of a shot from 25 to 30 yards out in the 28th minute to register the only Red Bulls goal of the game and his second of the preseason. Note: You'll definitely want to catch this one on the video recap.
Goalkeeper and SuperDraft pick Ryan Meara played his first full 90 since the club selected him out of Fordham last month. Outside of giving up the one goal, he did step up big on a number of chances and made some key saves to keep the Red Bulls in it long enough to try and pull out the win.
Overall a strong performance to close out the Mexican preseason tour through the Riviera Maya and Guadalajara. The guys have a full day of travel ahead of them Wednesday but then get the remainder of the week and the weekend off. Monday they fly out to Arizona for the final leg of the preseason with matches in Phoenix and Tucson. We will of course keep you up to date on that action as it unfolds.
Here are some pictures from Tuesday's match:
Guadalajara - The day started in Riviera Maya like any other day this week for the Red Bulls and ended in Guadalajara seven hours later.
After a light session on the pitch, including 8v8 and a little running to get the blood flowing again after a day off, the team headed off to the airport to catch a flight out to Guadalajara. It'll be a short stay in town, culminating with Tuesday's 8pm ET kick-off against Tecos in the final game of the preseason trip through Mexico. Then it's back home to Jersey early Wednesday afternoon.
We'll have more updates Tuesday as we edge closer to kick off, including Mike Petke and Dax McCarty giving their preseason input and previewing the Tecos match. In the mean time, here are a few pics from today's training session:
Riviera Maya - Just a short and sweet update today as the guys had the day off to regen and recoup following yesterday's match against Merida.
The next few days may be a bit of a whirlwind for the team. On Monday, there will be a brief practice in the morning on the pitch here in Mexico before heading back to the resort to pack up and bus it to the airport for the late-afternoon flight to Guadalajara. Tuesday's match against Tecos is set to kick off at 7pm CT (8pm ET), and then it's back to Jersey on Wednesday. We'll keep you posted on the busy close to the preseason trip through Mexico.
If you haven't seen it already, here's the promised video of highlights and player reactions from Saturday's match:
Riviera Maya - The Red Bulls played to a 1-1 draw against Merida Saturday evening in the second game of their three-game preseason tour through Mexico (full recap here). Connor Lade was the lone Red Bulls goal scorer as he registered the equalizer in the 80th minute to prevent the shut out.
In the video preview leading up to the match, Head Coach Hans Backe suggested Merida would look to display strong ball possession throughout and dictate the style of play early on. That was certainly the case as Merida pressured offensively and thwarted a number of Red Bulls shifts up the pitch at midfield. The possession game eventually evened out later in the match, allowing Lade to break free on a great pass from Georgi Chirgadze to tie it up on a chip past the goalkeeper. We'll have a video recap including highlights and player reactions Sunday, so you'll be able to see for yourself.
Outside of scheduled regeneration in the morning, Sunday's schedule is open for the guys to relax and enjoy the final full day on the resort. The team flies out to Guadalajara Monday ahead of Tuesday's 7pm CT (8pm ET) match against Tecos and returns home to Red Bull Arena late Wednesday night.
Here are a few photos from Saturday's match:
Riviera Maya - He did it again.
Thierry Henry showed off some last-minute heroics once again for his former club, Arsenal, with a strong finish off a cross in stoppage time to help the Gunners steal a 2-1 win over Sunderland.
The goal marks Henry's third since rejoining the North London club on loan back in early January. On Friday, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger confirmed Henry's loan would be completed on Feb. 16, as the Frenchman is expected back state side by Feb. 17.
“I would have loved him to stay two more weeks but he has to go back. He is captain of Red Bulls. Just to appear on the first day of the season would be unfair to them. We accepted at the start that we would release him on February 16. So we respect our word,” Wenger said Friday.
Riviera Maya - Clifton, New Jersey native Jonathan Borrajo played in the second half of Tuesday's 2-0 preseason win over FC Dallas. Prior to signing with the Red Bulls on Jan. 5, Borrajo spent time playing for Hamarkameratene of Norway, starting with the team in the Norway’s Second Division and helping his club earn promotion to the First Division.
We caught up with Jonathan after training Friday morning to see how things were going off the pitch so far and to find out where his new nickname comes from.
So you’re rooming with Victor Palsson. How’s that working out for you?
He calls me actually a pretty good roommate. He’s still trying to step his game up. He never remembers his room key which is a pain every now and then, but he’s all right.
How about getting to know some of the other guys, maybe the ones who have been here a bit longer?
The group is real good. Everyone gets along real well. They made it real easy to come in and just jell with them. We have a group of some clowns, some of the older guys. Teemu and Joel like to play a couple of pranks every now and then, but everyone’s real cool and everyone’s gotten along real well I think.
As a New Jersey guy on a team with a number of other local players, do you find yourself clicking with them a little bit more?
Nah. I mean, I can speak Spanish, so I’ve been speaking with a lot of the Spanish guys here. We’ve got some Jersey jokes that we like to crack on one another and the guys not from Jersey get on us, but the Jersey guys kinda stick together sometimes.
I hear you got yourself a new nickname…
Yeah. (Laughs) They like to call me Ron from The Jersey Shore. But I think I have nothing in common with that dude.
Riviera Maya - The Red Bulls spent Friday's training session working on tactics and making necessary improvements in an effort to better prepare for Saturday's 3pm CT (4 ET) kick off against Mexican side Merida.
A lot of emphasis remains centered on the team's defense, which helped post a clean sheet in New York's 2-0 win over FC Dallas earlier this week. Defensive drills, 11v11 and a number of attack-defense exercises comprised Friday's session on the pitch in Mexico.
Coach Hans Backe admitted to not being entirely familiar with Merida, however he is well aware of the style of play the Red Bulls may see Saturday afternoon.
"I think like most of the Mexican teams, from what I've seen and known from before, they are possession-minded," Backe said. "They will get hold of the ball and will have a lot of possession. Of course when you play in this heat, it's so important to have possession because if you lose it or lose possession too quick you are in trouble."
The match against Merida, which is closed to the public, marks the second of three scheduled for the Red Bulls during this preseason trip through Mexico. The third and final match will take place Tues., Feb. 14, in Guadalajara when the team takes on Tecos at 7pm CT (8pm ET). Similar to the match against FC Dallas, we will provide live in-game Tweets throughout. Neither of the remaining matches are available as a live stream.
Here are a few photos from Friday's session: