It’s the same game, just a bigger stage.
That’s how defender Tyler Ruthven feels when faced with the possibility of making his first career MLS start at Red Bull Arena Saturday against the New England Revolution.
“You gotta play not afraid to make mistakes,” Ruthven told the media following Thursday’s training session. “As far as I’m concerned this is the same game I’ve played since I was a little kid, the stadium’s just bigger.”
Ruthven will enter Saturday’s match just one week removed from making his MLS debut when he subbed on for injured defender Stephen Keel to start the second half against D.C. United. While Hans Backe will wait until Saturday to solidify the match’s starting XI, the minutes spent on the pitch at RFK Stadium will only help Ruthven, no matter when his number is called.
“Honestly, it wasn’t exactly how I dreamed it up as a little kid,” Ruthven said of his debut against D.C. “That being said, there’s probably some benefit of getting that out of the way before potentially starting on Saturday. There’s just no way to recreate that in training or know what it feels like until you’re out there. So it’s good to have, even though it’s only 45 minutes, it’s good to know what that feels like going into Saturday.”
Another player who may potentially enter Saturday’s match is Brandon Barklage, the 25-year-old St. Louis native who registered 11 appearances over three seasons with D.C. United from 2009 to 2011. Barklage has already set foot on the pitch twice this season for the Red Bulls, albeit as a late sub against Colorado on Mar. 25 and again the following week against the Montreal Impact.
Should he make Saturday’s starting XI, it will be his first start in a Red Bulls uniform and the first since 2010 with D.C.
“It’s definitely made me work harder throughout the week,” said Barklage regarding the possibility of starting. “I’ve strung together a few good performances last week along with this week at the right back position, so I think the coaches see a little bit of potential there and hopefully I’ll be playing there this weekend.”
Although a midfielder by trade, Barklage believes his style of play can transition well to the back line. Recent training sessions aside, it’s not his first time playing in that position.
“I had a little bit of experience with it last year in D.C., and I think it went pretty well for me, so I’m looking forward to it.”
No matter the situation, it's safe to say both Barklage and Ruthven are ready to face any challenges thrown their way.
“I feel confident,” Barklage added. “I like to think of myself as a versatile player, so wherever the coaches put me, I’m happy with it. I’m there for the team, and we’re looking to get a result this weekend.”