HARRISON, N.J. – With five starters away with their national teams for the Gold Cup, the Red Bulls roster was already a bit beleaguered. Following Saturday’s 2-1 win over New England, Hans Backe’s team has now moved from beleaguered to beat up as injuries plague the midfield and attack.
On Monday’s training at Montclair State University, the Red Bulls were without several starters, thanks to a variety of ailments. Perhaps the most troublesome of the injuries is to forward Luke Rodgers, who was substituted out in the second half with a heel injury. Rodgers began complaining about the injury in the middle of last week.
Backe said that with all the injuries, especially to Rodgers, the team is "in trouble.”
“Luke’s heel, I’m a little bit worried about that,” Backe said. “What kind of injury that is I’m not sure.”
With some of the regulars possibly returning in time for next week’s match, Backe is hopeful that the Red Bulls will get a match out of Rodgers this weekend and then perhaps the player can be rested.
Rodgers was fitted for an orthotic heel on Saturday. The team’s athletic trainer, Rick Guter, said that it was a case of plantar fasciitis, an inflammation of the tissue at the bottom of the foot, that “came out of nowhere.”
“We just need to give this as much time as we can to settle down,” Guter said.
Rodgers is tough and Backe said he thinks he can handle the pain.
“I’m a little bit worried,” Backe said. “[But] this is a guy who can play with pain.”
The Red Bulls were also without holding midfielder Teemu Tainio, who is being rested with a groin injury but is expected to return to training on Thursday. Mehdi Ballouchy, who has started every match since Dwayne De Rosario left for the Gold Cup, was away doing a charity appearance at St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital in Tennessee and was excused from training on Monday.
Also worrisome is Joel Lindpere’s absence from practice. The midfielder complained of foot pain during halftime of Saturday’s match and was unable to train on Monday because of a swollen foot. Backe said he was worried about that injury because of its uncertain nature, but with the match in Portland falling on a Sunday, the midfielder has extra time to recover.
Lindpere rolled his ankle in pregame on Friday night, but after Guter examined him he managed to play through the match. On Saturday, there was some inflammation but nothing that worried the team’s training staff.
On Monday, however, the discoloration was worse and Lindpere is scheduled for a precautionary MRI today.
“Obviously he had some bleeding in the injury,” Guter said. “He’s into the healing phase of the injury.”
Tainio’s nagging groin injury is nothing serious but needs rest.
“I think Teemu will play,” Backe said. “We’ll just try to be clever and smart.”
Kristian R. Dyer can be followed at twitter.com/KristianRDyer