It might be six weeks away from happening, but the timing is perfect for a New York Red Bulls side that will need some midfield depth as the busy upcoming summer of international call-ups comes.
But it won’t be through a trade or an international signing. Instead, it’s the hoped-for return-to-health of former Danish U-21 winger Brian Nielsen, who’s inching his way back to the practice field after multiple knee surgeries over the past year.
“I am probably about six to seven weeks away,” Nielsen told MLSsoccer.com. “I’m feeling better and, I think, much closer now.”
Nielsen signed with the Red Bulls last spring but a chronic knee injury he brought over from his previous season in Denmark sidelined the player after just a handful of games. Then a surgery this past fall derailed his progress further. He has been relegated to agility, strength training and individual work with the ball, and he has yet to join a team session this year.
The winger, who showed some flair and good crossing ability during his cup of coffee with the team last year, recently returned from Denmark — where he got his paperwork in order for his second year in MLS.
“Everything is almost done with the papers,” Nielsen said. “I did some rehabbing with my knee as well. I’m just ready to get back on the field soon.”
Lindpere Nearly 100 Percent: Joel Lindpere limped off the field in mid-April during the Red Bulls’ 3-0 win over San Jose and has been on the road to full health ever since.
At practice on Tuesday, Lindpere said his injured knee is feeling much better and is no longer an issue. The Estonian international missed some practices during that stretch a month ago as he tried to let the knock heal, and a lighter training schedule last week benefitted the midfielder.
“It’s good, it’s not too bad,” Lindpere told MLSsoccer.com “I say it’s much better. I didn’t think about it at all on Sunday.”
Set-Piece Conundrum: The Red Bulls have been among the best defensive teams in the league this year, surrendering just three goals in their opening eight matches. But Sunday evening against Chivas USA, they equaled that total in the 3-2 loss.
Most troublesome for New York is the fact that three of their last four goals conceded came off set pieces.
“We took a look at that already at what happened,” Lindpere said. “We have a couple days now to look at that and work on it in training and take care of it.”
Kristian R. Dyer can be followed at twitter.com/KristianRDyer