UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J. – It’s only a matter of days before the Red Bulls expect to finally get two of their regulars back in the starting lineup, as goalkeeper Frank Rost and forward Luke Rodgers near a return to full health.
While Rodgers may even see some minutes against Vancouver on Saturday, both are targeting the Sept. 17 match at FC Dallas.
Rost, who suffered a quadriceps injury following the Emirates Cup in July, took to the practice field for the second time this week. The German designated player has not played since being subbed out of an Aug. 6 match at Real Salt Lake.
Rodgers, who has battled a heel injury since the spring, may make his first appearance since July 6 when the Whitecaps visit Red Bull Arena on Saturday.
“I’d say Dallas. I’d be very happy if he can play some minutes on Saturday [vs. Vancouver],” manager Hans Backe said regarding the timeline for Rodgers’ return. Although confident Rodgers' return is fast approaching, Backe is not about ready to rush his player back and likely has his eyes set on Dallas rather than Vancouver.
While he might give Rodgers some playing time against Vancouver, Backe is expected to once again use backup goalkeeper Bouna Coundoul, who is back with the squad after representing Senegal in African Nations Cup qualifying.
“I can do everything, but the problem is [getting to] 100 percent kicking,” the 38-year-old Rost said of his recovery. “The last five percent, I have to wait, be patient.”
Injuries have generally not been a concern for Rost, who has played at least 30 games in each of his last four seasons, all with Bundesliga club Hamburg. He has played no less than 24 matches in his previous 13 years of soccer in Germany, so missing a third straight match this weekend is something Rost is largely unaccustomed to.
“This is the first time with me. I’ve never experienced this kind of an injury,” Rost said. “For me, the only thing is that I come back to the team, practice with the team and hopefully we win some matches.”
In addition to Rost and Rodgers, the other starter that Backe has to replace in the lineup is midfielder Teemu Tainio, who is still waiting to serve his red card suspension which dates back to an Aug. 20 match against the Revolution. There are a number of options to replace Tainio in the center of the field.
“Stephane [Auvray] is one of those guys,” Backe said. “We also have the option of [Rafa] Márquez there, with [Carlos] Mendes as a centerback.”
After playing for Mexico last week, Márquez flew back to New York on Tuesday evening and Backe expects to have the player for training on Thursday morning.
Jan Gunnar Solli is also back from injury and he told MLSsoccer.com on Monday that he expects to be in the midfield this weekend, a change from his usual right back position. A former Norwegian international who has played nearly his entire career as a box-to-box midfielder, Solli could also make for a good fit alongside Dax McCarty in the starting XI.
Kristian R. Dyer can be followed at twitter.com/KristianRDyer