The Red Bulls return to league action this Saturday in an away match against the Kansas City Wizards, and the team is slowly coming to health again. After a grueling stretch from May 1st through the first week of June, the team played nine competitive matches. A number of players were injured or had dead legs but the recent break has revived the team.
Head coach Hans Backe said that with the exception of Dane Richards, who suffered a hamstring injury in early June, the team is rounding around fitness wise. Roy Miller trained with the team for the first 30 minutes of Tuesday’s session and should be available soon. Macoumba Kandji and Austin da Luz also did fitness work. Midfielder Brian Nielsen, who, according to Backe, won’t be available this Saturday, could see the field soon as well.
The only absent player from the team on Tuesday was Juan Pablo Angel, who had an excused absence for what Backe termed “private reasons.”
Friday’s 4-2 friendly with Cruzeiro was a good opportunity for Backe to give the players a run. Coming off a 10-day vacation as part of the league’s stoppage for the World Cup, the Red Bulls’ coach had a chance to give the players a match to regain their touch and work on their fitness. The sharpness gained from playing in a match has benefitted the team in training.
“When you look at today’s session, I think things were very good,” Backe told MLSsoccer.com. “The players were sharp and I thought the level was overall high. I was pleased.”
On the personnel front, English forward Luke Rodgers is still in the picture for the Red Bulls, Backe said. A decision should be coming next week on the status of the player. Backe said that the player has a second interview next week with the United States’ embassy in London, which will determine whether he is granted a work permit to come play for New York.
If the permit doesn’t come through, Backe said that the team will drop its pursuit of Rodgers.
The coach also told MLSSoccer.com that he is looking to add a creative, attacking player to the squad soon. While he won’t give away names, Backe said that the team needs that central type of player to create in the final-third.
The coach did give some hints about the player being pursued. He is a player out of contract and a European. He is hopeful that a deal will be done soon.
“He is a top-class player,” Backe said. “A true No. 10.”
Backe admitted that he thinks the player will be a recognizable name to most American soccer fans.
Kristian Dyer is a reporter for MLSSoccer.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs. He can be reached for comment at KristianRDyer@yahoo.com or followed at twitter.com/kdyer1012