Red Bulls firing on all cylinders ahead of D.C. match

Kandji works out again, Ibrahim should be ready to go

Macoumba Kandji

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As Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe stood on the sidelines watching
his team practice on Thursday, he couldn’t help but crack a smile
watching the group interact. There was his New York squad, near the top
of the table, talking tactics and working through their problems – and
he didn’t even have to step in.

“The session was very good – it
was very lively,” Backe told “You can see confidence and
you can see the composure we had on the ball. We didn’t force many
things today.”

It got feisty at times on the field, but it wasn’t
frustration born from lack of effort. Rather, this team is beginning to
hold each other accountable and demanding perfection each day.

last-place team in 2009, this year’s Red Bulls hold each other to a
higher standard.

And it doesn’t hurt that forward Mac Kandji
could be on the bench for Saturday’s game against D.C. United.
Thursday’s was the sixth practice session for Kandji, who could “be an
option for 20, maybe 30 minutes” on Saturday, according to Backe.

also said that Salou Ibrahim, who has
struggled with some recent knocks, is available to start. Carl Robinson, while not ready to play this
weekend, is also “very close” to match readiness. The New York coach
praised the player’s work ethic after knee surgery a little over a month

“The way his knee responded is perfect,” Backe said. “There
is no swelling at all.”

For D.C. United, the same backline
should be in place, a unit which has allowed just two goals in the last
four games. Backe is pleased with their play and shape. The standard
4-4-2 formation will be implemented after the team went with a 4-5-1
starting lineup for the Colorado match.

Kristian Dyer is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.