New York Red Bulls' Tim Cahill to miss clash vs. Philadelphia Union

Tim Cahill vs. SKC

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HANOVER, N.J. – The New York Red Bulls will end a 20-day break from MLS action when they take on rivals the Philadelphia Union this weekend, but they will have to do so without Designated Player Tim Cahill.

The Australian international has been ruled out for Sunday’s match at PPL Park (5 pm ET, ESPN, live chat on MLSsoccer.com) because of a minor groin injury and personal matter that have forced him to stay in Australia, where he recently helped the Socceroos punch their ticket to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Cahill played in a 1-0 World Cup qualifying win over Iraq in Australia on Tuesday, and Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke said the midfielder sustained his minor knock late in the game, which led to Cahill being substituted in the 78th minute.

“He’s not going to be here this weekend,” Petke told reporters after training on Friday. “He’s got a family emergency and a little bit of a groin strain, little bit of one, or a groin issue. That’s why he came out in the game against Iraq and he’ll be staying in Australia to deal with the family situation and rest up a bit and be ready to roll before [the Houston Dynamo match on June 30].”

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With Cahill out, the Red Bulls are now without two of their top central midfield options. Juninho is also unavailable for the match against New York’s I-95 rivals because of yellow card-accumulation.

That leaves Petke with a decision to make as to who he pairs Dax McCarty with in central midfield. The options Petke has at his disposal are rookie Michael Bustamante or Eric Alexander, who has played in more of a wide role for the Red Bulls but served centrally when needed.

In any case, Petke and the Red Bulls are confident that whoever steps in will help the club get the job done against the Union.

“We have options and we’re happy with our options,” said Petke. “Guys had a good week in training and we’re looking forward to this game.”

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