NY's Backe concerned with impact of int'l call-ups

Number of national-team players has Swede re-evaluating goals

HARRISON,
N.J. – The Red Bulls may be heading into the 2011 season among the favorites for
the MLS Cup, but it isn’t overconfidence that keeps
manager Hans Backe up at night.

The concern is the fact that his roster may be too
talented to the point that a good portion of his starting lineup could get
called away on international duty throughout the MLS season.

During
Tuesday’s media day at Red Bull Arena, Backe listed the potential starters he thinks might go missing with their
respective national teams for extended periods due to the CONCACAF Gold Cup and Copa América. That long list includes Rafa Márquez (Mexico), Roy Miller (Costa Rica), Dane Richards (Jamaica), Bouna Coundoul (Senegal) and Juan Agudelo and Tim Ream (USA).

“It’s
a tricky season for us in that we might be without several key players for much
of the season,” Backe told MLSsoccer.com. “That is a lot of players to lose and still be
expected to play games in a season.”

The
lineup-juggling begins soon for Backe. At the end of March, the Red Bulls travel to Columbus and Backe envisions taking a big hit for that game.

“For Columbus,
we could be without six players for that match,” Backe said. “That’s tough to
play missing that many pieces.”

The
Red Bulls have built depth this year – arguably their deepest team in franchise history
– but Backe still envisions struggles as the team copes with the
potential loss of much of its core throughout the summer.

Last month, Backe
talked to the media about the goal he has for his team of pursuing the Supporters'
Shield. Now with more than half of his projected starting lineup missing time on international duty, Backe is re-evaluating his that claim.

“Perhaps
we have to change a little bit our goals and expectations,” Backe said. “No one
can live without five or six starters who might be lost for as much as 12
competitive matches. That’s a third of the season. We’re just forced to wait
and see how things play out for us.”

Kristian R. Dyer can
be followed at twitter.com/KristianRDyer

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