RBNY hold first practice after Sandy, but Backe is absent

Hans Backe

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UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J.  — The New York Red Bulls returned to practice on Wednesday for the first time since Hurricane Sandy hit the northeast to begin preparations for their upcoming playoff series against D.C. United (Saturday, 8 pm ET on NBCSN and RDS2).

But they did so without their head coach.

Hans Backe was not with the Red Bulls during Wednesday morning's training session, and his absence was not a byproduct of the weather. Rather, he left the New York/New Jersey area to tend to personal matters.

"He will be back [Thursday]," assistant coach Jan Halvor Halvorsen told reporters after leading Wednesday's practice. "He left on Sunday, so he will be back [Thursday]."

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Goalkeeper Bill Gaudette and midfielder Tim Cahill were also absent from training on Wednesday. Gaudette could not make it out from his New York home to practice because of the aftermath from Sandy, while Cahill sat out for precautionary measures.

"He didn't train today because of his calf," Halvorsen said of Cahill. "He has a little bit [of a] problem with that, so he had an easy today."

Halvorsen added that the team expects Cahill to be available to start in Saturday's scheduled Eastern Conference Semifinal first leg against United.

The preparations for the first leg of that series may have been hindered due to Hurricane Sandy forcing the cancellation of Tuesday's practice, but members of the team admitted it might have been good to get some added rest this late into the season.

"We all did individual stuff, we had individual workout programs for yesterday," Dax McCarty told MLSsoccer.com. "But at this point in the season, with most of the guys relatively fit, maybe it's a good thing for us to get the legs back."

Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at Franco8813@gmail.com.