The Red Bulls returned to the practice field at Montclair State University on Tuesday, having captured 10 points in their last four games.
On the training field were mostly reserves and spot starters as temperatures reached nearly 100 degrees during the worst heat wave in a decade to hit New Jersey.
The only members of the starting XI from Sunday’s 1-1 tie in Colorado who took the field were Danleigh Borman, Tim Ream and Dane Richards. All three participated in just fitness work as part of their regeneration following the match. The players participated in cardiovascular training before heading back to the team’s facility for some training in the gym.
A welcome sight to the practice field was Kevin Goldthwaite, who is recovering well from injury. The central defender has not made an appearance all season but was on the field doing conditioning work. Goldthwaite ran laps and did sprints and said he was “feeling really good” despite the torrid temperatures.
Also on the field after making appearances last week were Mac Kandji and Carl Robinsion. Both players participated and were active in passing drills and the small-sided game that ended practice. Robinson, who told MLSSoccer.com last week that his knee was feeling the best it has in his professional career, moved fluidly on the field. Head coach Hans Backe said it was his first full training session with the team since Robinson’s knee was scoped.
Kandji, who is also recovering from a knee injury, looked almost game ready, taking a blocked shot off the leg from Mike Petke and one-timing the effort beautifully past Greg Sutton from 25 yards out.
Backe told MLSSoccer.com that the team is nearly full strength right now, with only Kevin Goldthwaite and Giorgi Chirgadze the long-term concerns. Backe said that he was pleased with midfielder Dane Richards, who went 90 minutes in Sunday’s game against Colorado. For Richards, it was his first appearance since a June 2 hamstring injury had shelved him.
“He recovered very well, but he was exhausted after the match,” Backe said. “He had a rather good game, I think.”
One player that might not see the field anytime soon is Brian Nielsen. Backe seemed frustrated that the Danish youth international is struggling with a knee injury. Nielsen went nearly 90 minutes in the U.S. Open Cup game in Harrisburg last week, but he has not trained regularly since. Nielsen will likely not be available this weekend against D.C. United—and maybe even further down the road.
“I’m not sure his status right now to be honest. This knee is a problem,” Backe said. “He might need to have surgery on it. It keeps causing him problems.”
Backe, a fitness buff, stayed at practice to run and train, spending time in the team’s gym well after many of the players had left for the showers.
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 and followed at twitter.com/kdyer1012