Richards, De Rosario moved to forward slots for Red Bulls

Dane Richards and Dwayne De Rosario

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The New York Red Bulls will likely debut yet another new look up top against Seattle on Thursday (10 pm ET, ESPN2), trotting out Dane Richards and Dwayne De Rosario as the main attacking threats for a crucial matchup against the Sounders.

Richards and De Rosario — who have a combined four goals this season, but have largely played in the midfield — have been slotted into their new roles due to a dearth of options for New York, with Thierry Henry (suspension), Luke Rodgers (injury) and Juan Agudelo (Gold Cup) all unavailable.

“We will just play Dane up front as the highest striker,” head coach Hans Backe said. “If we just have that kind of pace up front, I think we can hurt them and the way we defended and attacked in the first half against Portland, which I was very happy with that, it looks like Dane will be the highest and Dwayne as the second striker.”

Neither is a stranger to this position. De Rosario has played forward numerous times in his MLS career, including this past weekend when he partnered with Henry in Portland. Richards has filled in numerous times as a striker over the past three seasons, though all of his five goals last year came as a midfielder.

The midfield lineup then, will likely feature youngster Austin da Luz on the left, Teemu Tainio in the central defensive role, Joel Lindpere in De Rosario’s attacking role and Mehdi Ballouchy anchoring Richards’ traditional spot on the right flank.

The move comes on the heels of Henry’s controversial red card and automatic suspension, which drew the public ire of Red Bulls GM Erik Solér earlier this week. Though a statement from Solér indicated that the club had appealed Henry’s red card for violent conduct in the Portland match, such a decision by the league’s Disciplinary Committee would be unprecedented.

The league has only ever rescinded red cards on the basis of mistaken identity, which does not apply to the Henry incident.

Kristian R. Dyer can be followed at twitter.com/KristianRDyer