Red Bulls try to make the most of tough travel schedule

Players optimistic; Backe thinks journey is "good for the team"

Team huddle

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RBNY's current road trip is certainly racking up the frequent flyer
miles for the club as New York come off a 3-3 draw in Portland and ready
themselves for Seattle on Thursday night (10:00 pm ET, ESPN2).

Then it’s on to Chicago this Sunday for an Eastern Conference clash
before returning home for a Tuesday night US Open Cup derby against FC
New York. The Red Bulls go into the air a couple days later and fly to
San Jose on yet another West Coast trip before coming back to the
tri-state area.

And while four regular-season away games in a row is tough enough, the
challenge of the condensed match schedule - five fixtures in two weeks -
can wear on the team. Factor in playing the majority of the matches
while missing five regulars due to national team call ups, add in an
injury to Luke Rodgers, and the Red Bulls' mettle is being tested.

But even with the quirks, the Red Bulls are liking their schedule.
After Sunday’s match in Portland, the club is staying in the Pacific
Northwest and training in the Seattle area. Head coach Hans Backe feels
that there is enough of a break between matches to rest his players
properly.

“I like to play, for example, Sunday-Thursday-Sunday, I like it when it
is [that way] for two or three weeks,” Backe said. “I think everyone
can adjust to play with that schedule.”

Forward Thierry Henry likened the schedule to his experience with the
French national team during the World Cup, and while the grind isn't
quite at that level, it is clearly a business first mentality for New
York.

“We just want to do what we need to do and hopefully get seven points
from these three matches,” midfielder Austin da Luz said after the
Portland tie. “Tonight was a good start for us and we hope to build on
that in Seattle.”

The camaraderie built by such an intense travel schedule is being
billed as something good for the team. Down time on the road has a
preseason vibe to it, giving the Red Bulls a chance to grow together on
and off the pitch.

“I think it could be good for the team to get together and to learn each other well,” Backe added.

The challenge, though, comes after Sunday in Chicago when New York will face a quick turnaround for their US Open Cup match.

New York will look to use some of their depth to give their starters a bit of a breather.

“It will be mostly reserves,” Backe said. “Ream and Agudelo [could be]
in because they haven’t played that much, but mostly reserves. Even if I
still feel that it is a priority to play the Open Cup, with this
schedule - San Jose away on Saturday - we just need to be smart.”

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