UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J. — For Hans Backe and the Red Bulls, the postponement of Sunday's much-anticipated matchup with the LA Galaxy due to the onset of Hurricane Irene might not be such a bad thing.
Backe confirmed on Friday following training at Montclair State University that the team will meet and train on Saturday morning and on Monday, but won’t reconvene again until Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 5.
“We will definitely rest,” Backe said. “It’s quite an easy decision.”
The hope is that the time off will give injured players like Frank Rost, Jan Gunnar Solli and perhaps even Luke Rodgers a chance to get healthy before New York’s next game against the Vancouver Whitecaps on Sept. 10.
The date change also benefits Teemu Tainio, whose red card against the New England Revolution last Saturday would have held him out of the match against LA. Tainio will be unavailable against Vancouver, but could be available for the Galaxy match, which was rescheduled to Oct. 4.
“I wanted to play this game, but maybe it’s a good thing,” forward Juan Agudelo said. “We can get healthy, get some rest as well. Get some of the guys back and ready. The break can help us mentally, too.”
Brian Nielsen could also return to the field for the Vancouver game on Sept. 10.
The Danish midfielder, who is recovering from knee surgery last fall, participated in the full training session on Friday morning. He played in small-sided games with the reserves and, for the first time since his injury, scrimmaged with the team. Nielsen even blasted a goal past ‘keeper Chris Konopka and saw a shot denied by the post.
“He’s improving all the time,” Backe said of Nielsen. “It’s only mentally he’s afraid of twisting his knee.”
There is a slight hesitancy to taking players one-on-one but Backe is confident Nielsen can come back this season and make an impact.
“He has a phenomenal strike,” Backe said. “He’s very sharp one-on-one.”
Backe also didn’t close the door on Nielsen, who is on loan this season from Red Bull Salzburg, joining the team for next year as well. If he shows well, Backe said, “he will be back.”
Kristian R. Dyer can be followed at twitter.com/KristianRDyer