UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J. – If the New York Red Bulls take to the field with a little more swagger on Saturday night against the Houston Dynamo (7:30 pm ET, Direct Kick, MatchDay Live), they would do so even if they had not traded for Dwayne De Rosario on Friday afternoon.
That's because they'll benefit from the return of their cadre of international stars, including Dane Richards, who went on a tear last season after coming off Jamaican national team duty last summer boasting of having “some confidence to drink."
Richards will return sated again this weekend after scoring a brace for the Reggae Boyz against El Salvador on Tuesday. New York are hoping that their two young American internationals, Juan Agudelo and Tim Ream, benefit the same way from their recent international participations.
[inline_node:332182]Agudelo played in both of the US’ friendly matches against Argentina and Paraguay, and Ream started and played against Paraguay. They’ll be able to draw on the confidence from their recent appearances as they head back into MLS play.
And the duo was pleased to see that New York did well in their absence, as the short-handed side achieved an impressive 0-0 result last Saturday in Columbus against the Crew.
"The first two weeks, you get a loss and a tie – you’re obviously going to be hungry for a win," Ream said. "You want to get three points, even if you're on the road. We already have a target on our back from being first in the East last year.”
But the return of Ream, bolstered by a strong showing on Tuesday night against Paraguay, is good news for New York. The central defender adds another component to the team in terms of distribution and savvy on the ball from the backline.
As for Agudelo, he feels he can take the lessons learned, including scoring against Argentina, back to the Red Bulls.
“It was awesome,” Agudelo said. “You just take so much away from it, the whole experience. You take it away and want to bring that confidence back with you.”
Ream spent Thursday in regeneration instead of training with his teammates and said that he was over the knee knock he suffered in Tuesday’s friendly.
“It was nothing structural,” Ream said.
New York also had good health reports of Richards and defender Rafa Marquez, among others called up for international duty.
“No injuries," assistant coach Jan Halvor Halvorsen said. "That's the main key when they play national games; we are always afraid that they are coming back injured.”
Kristian R. Dyer can be followed at twitter.com/KristianRDyer