Juan Agudelo U20 Atlante

Injuries mounting for Red Bulls' attack

UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J. – The injury bug is beginning to bite the Red Bulls, and head coach Hans Backe told reporters on Monday that he is keeping a careful eye on several players.

New York are preparing to depart for Arizona later this week having spent the first two legs of preseason in Mexico and Florida. However, the team's attack appears undermanned and perhaps overwhelmed.

On Saturday, in a 2-0 win over the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers, Juan Agudelo pulled up lame around the 20th minute when going for a cross into the area. The 18-year-old stopped suddenly and then immediately felt pain in his groin area. He was subbed off the field shortly after and said he will most likely miss “five to six days” of training with the team.

“Just a little groin strain,” Agudelo said. “I believe so – from what I heard, it’s not that serious.”

Agudelo is currently on a running regimen and had a gym workout on Monday. Though he said he’s eager to return to the field, he added he woud not rush back for fear of aggravating the injury.

According to head coach Hans Backe, Agudelo had suffered the same injury in January while with the national team.

“You have to be careful,” Backe said. “He’ll have to take his time now to get 100 percent OK.”

Backe is not quite so optimistic about the timeline of recent acquisition Luke Rodgers’ recovery.

The English forward, who most recently played for League One side Notts County, has not yet practiced with the Red Bulls. Since joining New York mid-January, Rodgers has been relegated to just rehabbing his injured knee. It was Backe’s hope that Rodgers would begin training with the team in full in Florida.

The forward has pace and will be a “firecracker” on the pitch, Backe said, but the injuries are holding him back.

“It’s also a question mark with his knee, but it’s his foot more than his knee,” Backe said. “Luke might be out for the season opener.”

Rodgers is currently back in England attending to some paperwork surrounding his visa.

Backe told MLSsoccer.com that out-of-favor forward Salou Ibrahim was not considered an option to replace either Agudelo or Rodgers in a starting lineup.

Kristian R. Dyer can be followed at twitter.com/KristianRDyer