HANOVER, N.J. – A year after enjoying a relatively injury-free season, the New York Red Bulls have had their fair share of setbacks during the 2016 campaign. But as the postseason beckons, the squad continues to approach full fitness.
After working his way back from an ACL injury at the start of the season, defender Damien Perrinelle managed to make his long-awaited return on July 10 against the Portland Timbers. Unfortunately, his place within the squad would be short lived. Suffering another injury setback on August 7 against the LA Galaxy, the Frenchman was forced back to the sidelines with ankle and meniscus injuries.
A week prior, captain Dax McCarty was the recipient of a painful challenge against the Chicago Fire. A tibial plateau fracture saw McCarty shift into a spectator’s role for an estimated four-to-six weeks, but New York’s midfield engine has worked his way back ahead of schedule.
“They’ll both be ready to go from the start [this Saturday],” head coach Jesse Marsch said of both Perrinelle and McCarty. “It’s just a matter of balancing out our team to figure out what’s going to be best on the day. As of today, they’re ready to go.”
The duo should provide a nice boost for a Red Bulls side that is preparing for a lengthy road trip out west to take on the Vancouver Whitecaps, as midfielder Felipe expressed his excitement at seeing them both on the training pitch.
“We are so happy to have those guys back,” he said. “They bring a lot technically and mentally for our team. Having our captain back will be a big step for us.”
In terms of key absences, New York will have to cope without midfielder Sacha Kljestan (USA) and defender Kemar Lawrence (Jamaica) due to international call-ups, but one more major name is still up in the air.
Goalkeeper Luis Robles was deemed “questionable” after Wednesday’s training session after hobbling through the late portions of New York’s 1-0 win over the New England Revolution on August 28.
“He’s a little bit in question because he’s got a little bit of a strain in his MCL,” Marsch revealed.
Robles did not take part in training, but with his Ironman mark on the line, Marsch is confident that he will be manning the net for his 134th consecutive match at BC Place.
“I’m not betting against him,” he said. “I think he’ll be ready to go.”