With Hurricane Irene long gone from the Tri-State area, the Red Bulls will now look to get back on track and focus on the road ahead. Instead of doing that on the field, a majority of the team will reset the odometer with a little R&R during the Labor Day break with the hopes of returning healthy, rested and ready to close out the regular season strong.
Sunday’s match against the Los Angeles Galaxy has been rescheduled for Oct. 4, so the team will have plenty of time to do just that before the next scheduled game against the Vancouver Whitecaps on Sept. 10.
Head Coach Hans Backe and company held practice Monday morning at Montclair State University, the only team practice on the schedule this week. Early last week Backe was very clear as to what's on the team's agenda during the lull between games.
“This is the first chance to have a break,” said Backe. “It’s been tough, so I think everyone, hopefully mentally and physically, will do well just to get these days off. They will do some individual work to keep in shape, but otherwise get the rest and have a nice vacation.”
The home match against the Whitecaps provides ample opportunity for the Red Bulls to pick up a much-needed three points for the first time since routing Toronto FC 5-0 on July 6. Since then RBNY has finished 0-3-4 and slipped to fifth place in the East.
Vancouver, currently ranked last in the Western Conference (4-13-9, 21 points), will enter Red Bull Arena fresh off of a 1-0 win over the Houston Dynamo, currently third in the East. Despite Vancouver’s struggles this season, Backe is not about to take the opponent lightly and considers the upcoming match a “must-win” for the Red Bulls.
“Every game in this league is so competitive. Even if you play these so-called bottom teams with 20 or 22 points, it still will be so tight,” Backe said. “We just need to focus on our playing style.”
Although a number of players will look to relax over the next few days, a few Red Bulls will take part in international duties. Defenders Rafa Marquez (Mexico), Roy Miller (Costa Rica) and Tim Ream (United States), midfielder Dane Richards (Jamaica), forward Juan Agudelo (United States), and goalkeeper Bouna Coundoul (Senegal) will sport national colors this upcoming weekend. Red Bull Arena plays host to the Colombia and Honduras friendly on Saturday, Sept. 3 at 8 p.m. EST.
Tickets are available online for both the Colombia and Honduras match and the Sept. 10 meeting when the Red Bulls host Vancouver. Fans may also call 1.877.RBSOCCER for more information.