RBNY Notebook: Coundoul returns after star Senegal turn
UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J. — It turns out Bouna Coundoul is just fine.
The Senegalese ‘keeper, away on international duty, was listed in several postmatch press reports as having been injured in a 0-0 tie in Cameroon in an African Cup of Nations qualifier this past weekend.
“I played the whole 90 minutes and didn’t get a scratch,” Coundoul said on Wednesday. “So I don’t know who came up with that.”
Coundoul’s play was superb against the Indomitable Lions, perhaps the best team on the continent. Time after time the Red Bulls goalkeeper stood tall and made several big saves. But true to form, Coundoul was humble and didn’t want to take credit for what was a surprising result for Senegal on the road.
“After the match, I was Man of the Match,” Coundoul said. “People were saying that it was Cameroon vs. Bouna. But it was Cameroon vs. Senegal.”
Coundoul had to be big between the pipes to keep the match even, as match referee Martins de Carvalho Helder — who has come under intense criticism for what many deemed clear skewed officiating — booked four Senegal players and dished out red cards to two others.
Still, with the draw, Senegal remain atop of Group E in qualifying with two games to go.
Midway through the first half of Saturday’s 1-1 tie with Columbus, right back Jan Gunnar Solli pulled up lame and was an early substitution. Solli had a hamstring injury that has kept him from the practice field this week and might possibly make him a scratch for Friday night against New England.
All tests so far have come back indicating that the injury is not a long-term concern.
“It doesn’t look too serious,” Solli said. “It is a matter of days, I think.”
The Norwegian international spent time in the pool on Wednesday to aid his recovery and will begin running to “fire up the glutes” on Thursday.
Backe Talks ASG
Last Thursday, head coach Hans Backe was named as the coach for next month’s MLS All-Star Game at Red Bull Arena when the MLS All-Stars take on Manchester United. Backe reiterated how honored he was to be chosen and that he won’t take the game lightly.
“I don’t want to lose that game,” he said. “It will be a cracker.”
One of the interesting talking points as Backe begins to mull his selections for the roster will be the possible inclusion of Red Bulls on the All-Star team, including forward Luke Rodgers. The Englishman is second on the Red Bulls with five goals and his name is being bantered around as one of the best and most exciting forwards in the league.
And the possibility exists that Rodgers would partner at some point in the game with Landon Donovan, a player about whom Rodgers has shared his views with some pointed comments.
“That would be nice,” Backe said of pairing them together. “That would be good.”
• Midfielder Teemu Tainio was held out of practice on Wednesday and will train Thursday, Backe said. The same status goes for defender Carlos Mendes, who is expected to be available for Friday night against New England.
• The Red Bulls are expecting to bring in a trialist on Monday but will not release the player’s name, per a team spokesman.
• Backe had only three players on the bench against Columbus, a result of what he said was his reserves not earning their place in the game-day roster. Backe said he doesn’t see a change of policy for this match.
“Everyone has to deserve it, they have to show passion,” Backe said. “Then I will pick them for the bench.”
• According to Thierry Henry, second-year midfielder Austin da Luz was “the best” on the field last game in what was the winger’s first-ever start in MLS.
Kristian R. Dyer can be followed at twitter.com/KristianRDyer