HARRISON, N.J. — The Red Bulls are exhausted with traveling.
That's what New York head coach told MLSsoccer.com on Thursday when asked why the Red Bulls reserves played against a nearly full-strength Chicago side on Tuesday night at Toyota Park. Recent extended travel and fixture congestion would prove too much for his first-choice team and Backe decided to sacrifice the US Open Cup.
“It’s all about our travelling schedule so far,” Backe said. “Normally we’d like to have a priority with the Open Cup.”
The 4-0 loss to Chicago lit up message boards with fans angered by the perceived lack of priority given to the quarterfinal fixture. Exacerbating the issue is that the franchise has yet to win a significant piece of hardware in its 16 years of existence. Backe didn’t make the trip to Chicago, instead sending assistant coach Mike Petke, who spends much of his time coaching the reserves, with the Red Bulls traveling squad.
Backe called it a good opportunity for Petke to get “some experience.”
The Tuesday match fell three days after the Red Bulls 1-0 home loss to D.C. United. The week before, New York concluded a four-game road trip including three matches in the Pacific time zone. The travel and another match would have been too much in Backe’s mind, and he made the decision to rest his starters and go with reserves.
Backe also denied that the upcoming trip to London for the Emirates Cup had anything to do with his choice to rest the starting XI.
“It’s been a tricky season for us,” Backe said. “We need to perform better … more consistent. Win the tight games.”
King of the Rost: Designated Player signing Frank Rost was not with the team for training on Thursday as the goalkeeper is expected to join his new club on Friday. With 400 Bundesliga starts to his credit, Rost is likely the starter going forward, meaning there will be some roster moves on the team’s horizon soon.
Backe says he has made up his mind which of the trio of goalkeepers currently on the roster — Bouna Coundoul, Alex Horwath or Greg Sutton — would be either traded or cut. The head coach would not release the name of the player on the move but all three were at training on Thursday.
“I have decided,” Backe said. “I would have to talk with the player first.”
Injury Updates: A nearly full-strength Red Bulls squad trained at Montclair State University on Thursday morning, with only Rafa Márquez and Luke Rodgers out. Backe hopes to have Márquez, who pulled his hamstring in Mexico’s Gold Cup win over the United States, available for selection soon.
For Saturday's match at Chivas USA, though, both Rodgers and Márquez have been ruled out, but the Mexican national team captain could be ready for next Wednesday's match at Colorado.
“If we’re lucky, perhaps he’ll be ready for Colorado,” Backe said.
Kristian R. Dyer can be followed at twitter.com/KristianRDyer