Preseason in Mexico:Day 4

Team prepares for Atlante friendly, stresses defense first

Mexico Daily Update 4

Photo Credit: 
RBNY

After over two weeks of squaring off against each other, the Red Bulls will get its first test of the preseason when they take on Atlante Wednesday night at 9:00 PM ET.

The mood in the camp was positive Tuesday as the squad was eager to get onto the field against an opponent that did not consist of their own teammates.

“It’s something different, the guys look forward to some good competition,” said goalkeeper Greg Sutton. “Obviously, it’ll be a good atmosphere with the Mexican fans embracing our team here.”

According to head coach Hans Backe, considering the fact that the players are still rounding into game fitness, he will play two completely different squads in the first and second half. While a win would be positive, Backe is keen on seeing how his team plays defensively, as many of the practice sessions so far have emphasized keeping shape when the other side is in possession.

“We will definitely keep our basic foundation without making any small adjustments in our defending game so everyone has to be aware on how we should defend, what they should do individually and get the understanding. That’s what it’s all about,” Backe said.

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One player who hopes to continue his good form into the 2011 season is forward Juan Agudelo, who could partner with Thierry Henry. Despite Agudelo’s recent success on the club and international level, he is staying focused on improving and developing chemistry with the French Designated Player.

“I’m only 18 years old and he’s been at the highest level so I’m just there to learn and pay attention to what he says,” Agudelo said. “I’m honored to play with him up top and hopefully it shows in the season that we can play together.”

Backe said that he has not seen Atlante play in two and a half years but anticipates that his team will need to adapt to the Mexican side’s technical style of play. The heat could also play a factor, which makes it even more vital for the Red Bulls to keep possession throughout the match. Backe, who will likely field a more experienced side in the first half and a younger squad in the second, said that he hopes his players will begin developing a good foundation for the rest of the year.

“When we see the established players in the first half, I’d like to see the team get ready and also do the dirty work in the friendly game and don’t take anything for granted,” Backe said.

Fans can follow the match live via the team’s Twitter feed (@newyorkredbulls).

NOTES
- In the sole session today, the team prepared for Atlante by going over formation and set plays.
- According to Backe, defender Chris Albright picked up a “soft groin injury.” Albright did not train Tuesday.
- Agudelo said that he feels more comfortable in his second preseason camp after joining the team later last year, developing relationships both on and off the field with his teammates.
- Backe’s quote of the day: Telling his team to “go ballistic in the pressing game.”
- Make sure you check our video from yesterday’s press conference (to be posted shortly) and also check the site later today for a preview of the match.

STAT OF THE DAY
7-0-3 – The Red Bulls’ record in preseason last year. New York defeated teams including Lech Poznan, Stromsgodset and Santos in Red Bull Arena’s Grand Opening. New York also captured the Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic in Kissimmee, FL, besting Toronto FC and the Houston Dynamo.