HANOVER, N.J. – The injury news came down on Wednesday afternoon, and the prognosis isn’t exactly optimistic.
Of the three injured during Saturday night’s win against the Houston Dynamo, the defense has come off the worse for the wear, with both Ronald Zubar and Gideon Baah shelved with “significant” hamstring injuries.
After the two centerbacks went down with injury, head coach Jesse Marsch was forced to construct a makeshift backline with Karl Ouimette and Kemar Lawrence as the centerback duo that finished the game. The two got the job done, but they won’t get a chance to work on their tandem any further in the immediate future, as they are currently training with the Canadian and Jamaican national teams, respectively.
"We are obviously very depleted there,” Marsch said. “We ended the game with two guys who are gone on international break, so it's a complex issue right now.”
A natural fullback, Lawrence had been deployed in the center of the defense once before for the Red Bulls, ironically in prior matchup with the Houston Dynamo last summer. And with the team scrambling to find replacements, the Jamaican international could well be a candidate to reclaim his spot come the team’s trip to New England.
"I thought Kemar did really well,” Marsch told reporters after Wednesday’s training session. “We've talked about using him there before because we know he has a lot of really good qualities that fit that spot, so I think he can play it really well. He's a communicator and he's a really smart player, so there's no reason why he can't be one of the options for now. We're open-minded to it.
“It's a little frustrating that we don't get to work on it in the next couple of weeks because he's gone, but it's something that we're going to visit for sure."
As Marsch stated, their absence this week has further complicated issues, but goalkeeper Luis Robles understands that it is all a part of the process.
“That’s just part of navigating through the system,” he said. “They’re quality players, so those guys are going to get called up and that means they’ll have more mileage on them. So now it’s going to rest on not only them to take care of themselves, but the training staff to make sure that they’re ready to go and fit for the next game on Friday against New England.”
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