Red Bulls Notebook: Backe Wants Meara to Get Stronger

UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J. – New York Red Bulls rookie goalkeeper Ryan Meara has been one of the team’s most consistent performers this season, posting three wins while leading the league with 21 saves. That doesn't mean there’s no room for improvement.

RBNY head coach Hans Backe wants the rookie out of Fordham to get stronger, saying that aspect is one of Meara’s weaknesses. To do that, Meara has been put on a workout regimen – a big change from his college days.

“I was never big into lifting but the guys here, the strength and condition coach, kind of have a workout schedule just to try and put some muscle on [me],” Meara told on Tuesday. “Not get too big, but kind of just get a little leaner, just so when I come for those crosses if I take a bump, it doesn’t really affect me.”

While bumps haven’t played a significant role in any of the goals Meara’s conceded, he’s still without a shutout five games into the season. New York were close to doing so in last Saturday’s match at Columbus, but the Crew conceded late in the 4-1 victory when Chad Marshall beat Markus Holgersson to head home a corner kick.

“You never want to give up a goal even if it is 10-0,” said Meara. “What hurt was that you could almost taste it, it was the 89th minute, but we’ll take the 4-1. I think we played great again so just keep it going.”

Meara also thinks the clean sheets could start rolling in for him and the Red Bulls once they get that all-elusive first one of the year.

“Hopefully once we get it, they’ll just keep coming,” said Meara. “Sometimes the first one is the hardest to get.”

Conde questionable for Earthquakes match

Center back Wilman Conde has already missed three games this season due to injury, and he might fail to dress for a fourth time this weekend.

The Colombian’s status for the home game against the San Jose Earthquakes this Saturday (7 pm ET; watch LIVE online) is up in the air as he continues to recuperate from the groin strain picked up in the waning moments of the Red Bulls’ 5-2 win over the Montreal Impact on March 31.

“He is questionable,” Backe on Tuesday. “He will do some footwork tomorrow and hopefully he can join [training with the team] on Thursday.”

Conde trained on Tuesday, but did solo work off to the side of the main field.

Backe sees Cooper back in USMNT fold

Kenny Cooper’s six goals this season have him tied for second in the league’s scoring charts behind only teammate Thierry Henry. Should Cooper continue to demonstrate that kind of form in the coming weeks and months, Backe would not be surprised to see his striker get a call-up from US men’s national team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann.

“If he keeps scoring like this, of course he could be picked for the national team,” said Backe. “We’ve played five games but he’s done very well when he’s got his chances.”

The last time Cooper suited up for the United States was on Oct. 14, 2009, when he came off the bench to play the final 11 minutes in a dramatic 2-2 draw with Costa Rica in World Cup qualifying at RFK Stadium in Washington.