For the first time in his nearly three decades as a head coach, New York Red Bulls coach Hans Backe missed a game last Saturday. The Red Bulls won 1-0 away to Seattle, but Backe was back in his hotel room, feeling ill.
This weekend, just days after undergoing a minimally invasive procedure to remove his gallbladder after being diagnosed with cholecystitis, the Swede plans to be back on the sideline when the Red Bulls take on Chivas USA on Saturday night at the Home Depot Center.
Backe said that after the surgery, the issue was completely resolved. He didn’t fly with the team on Thursday but anticipates making a separate flight on Friday.
During the match with Seattle, Backe spent much of the game dozing off and on, fighting intense “stomach pains.” He calls last Saturday the “worst night of his life” and he eventually went to the hospital.
He was unable to watch the game because the hotel did not carry Fox Soccer Channel, but he received messages from Red Bulls’ sporting director Erik Solér, who gave him updates every 15 minutes, according to Backe. Even with the updates, Backe concedes that he spent much of that time sleeping, but he got through it.
Backe did have the chance to watch a tape of the Red Bulls’ victory, their first win on the road in 27 games, on Sunday. He was pleased with the effort and praised the job done by assistant coach Richie Williams, who took control of the team in his absence.
After the game, Williams told MLSSoccer.com that maybe it was a good thing that an ill Backe was unable to watch the match from the hotel room, due to the high drama of the Seattle attack pushing for an equalizer. Williams teased that it was best for Backe’s stomach if he didn’t have to watch the Sounders’ repeated forays into the final third.
Backe, from his perspective, wasn’t sickened by what he saw of the game film. He credited the New York back line with cutting down on Seattle’s chances, saying that even if Seattle had the run of play, the Red Bulls still had the better and more dangerous chances.
“It was a rock solid effort,” Backe said. “Really excellent.”