Bouna Coundoul
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Florida Preseason: Day 3

It has been nearly a month since Red Bulls training camp opened, but Wednesday was the first time that Red Bulls fans were able to catch a glimpse of “Bouna Time” – the catchphrase of goalkeeper Bouna Coundoul.

Coundoul, who featured in the second half of New York’s 1-1 draw against Chicago and will likely play in New York’s match against the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers (KICKOFF HAS BEEN MOVED UP TO 2:30 PM SATURDAY – the match will be streamed live on, made arguably the most important play of the game, stopping a Marco Pappa penalty kick to keep the game tied. Coundoul also made a couple of big saves during the interval to give his team a chance to earn a victory.

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“It is really important not to lose games, even if it’s preseason,” said midfielder Jan Gunnar Solli. “All the best to Bouna on that save. He was just ready when it came and he did us a great favor in getting us a draw.”

The Senegalese’s heroics should come as no surprise to Red Bulls fans who watched Coundoul log one of the best seasons for a goalkeeper in club history. Coundoul had an 1.04 goals against average to go along with 11 shutouts. He also stayed off the injury report, playing in 28 of 30 games.

Coundoul’s recent absence and his non-involvement in two matches last year were directly due to his responsibilities with the Senegalese National Team. While the Red Bulls were in Mexico, Coundoul earned his fifth cap in a 3-0 win over Guinea on Feb. 9.

This season, Coundoul has the new challenge of getting to know the new players around him, including the centerback tandem of Rafa Marquez and Tim Ream.

“Those are the type of players who want the ball at their feet,” Coundoul said. “It makes it a lot easier for me to get the ball, pass it to them. They’re so technically gifted that any ball that’s on their feet, they’re going to find a way to pass it or make something out of it.”

Coundoul has hit the weight room to improve his strength and prepare for the challenges of the 34-game season. He is bullish on the team’s chances in 2011 and noted the team’s success in its possession game on Wednesday, especially in the first half. And he’s happy that he’s back with the club as it prepares for a run at the MLS Cup.

“It’s a good feeling because it’s been almost a couple of months I’ve been apart from the team so I’m getting back into my rhythm. So far, I can’t complain,” he said.

- As previously stated, the kickoff time between the Red Bulls and the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers (formerly Miami FC) has been moved up from 3:30 PM to 2:30 PM.
- Midfielder Billy Cortes is no longer in camp with the team ( LINK).
- The Red Bulls are fairly healthy on this trip. Midfielder Brian Nielsen participated in some possession games last Tuesday while forward Luke Rodgers is coming back from a knee injury.
- Chris Albright played the entire second half against Chicago’s first team. Albright missed time in Mexico due to a groin strain.
- Solli played 90 minutes for the second time this preseason and said he felt fine despite the mid 80-temperatures: “I’m feeling pretty good actually. I cramped up a couple of times during the second half but that’s usually how you’re supposed to react in preseason.”
- On Thursday, the team did a light regeneration session and had the rest of the day off.