Red Bulls' Backe "almost 100% sure" Marquez will play

UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J. – For once, the New York Red Bulls have some positive news on the injury front.

Talking to reporters a day before leading his team into the second leg of the MLS Eastern Conference Semifinals against D.C. United, Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe said he expects center back Rafa Márquez to be healthy enough to partake in the match.

Márquez sustained a slight calf strain at the end of the first half of the 1-1 draw in the first leg at RFK Stadium on Saturday and had to be replaced at halftime, which immediately forced some to wonder if he could suit up on Wednesday at Red Bull Arena (8 pm ET, NBCSN, live chat on MLSsoccer.com).

“I would say as much as 90 percent that he will play,” Backe said after Tuesday’s training session. “It’s a soft, soft, soft calf injury. He gets treatment two days, it’s even 24 more hours, so he will be in. I’m almost 100 percent sure.”

Backe also reiterated the status of midfielder Tim Cahill, insisting the Australian international is set to play despite being limited in training for a week-and-a-half because of a calf injury sustained in the 55th minute of the 3-0 win over the Philadelphia Union in the regular-season finale.

“Things haven’t got better, but it’s a playoff game,” Cahill said of his injury. “There’s potentially three or four games left for our season, so it’s nothing different to what I would have done at Everton. Get treatment all the way until the last minute and see how long I can last.

“It’s all about managing and I’ve had enough experience in how to manage injuries and how to get through games, and a few times this season a few of us have done,” he added. “It’s a significant injury, but it’s a big game and I don’t like missing big games.”

One other topic Cahill touched on was the growing criticism he is receiving from some Red Bulls fans, who are unhappy with the Designated Player’s offensive production. Cahill has one goal and three assists since joining the club in July.

“I play where I have to play for the team,” Cahill said. “The thing is, anyone that knows football understands where I’m playing and what I’m doing. I’m not there to always please everyone. I’m here to do my job at the football club and make sure we try and win something, so that’s football. Can’t keep everybody happy, can I?”

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