UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J. — There is no real goalkeeper controversy in New York, head coach Hans Backe said on Monday.
Chris Konopka made his MLS debut on Saturday night in the Red Bulls' 2-2 draw with the Chicago Fire, and the Toms River, N.J., native — who has spent the past three years playing in Ireland — was largely solid between the pipes.
With starter Frank Rost injured and out for the rest of this month, Bouna Coundoul would otherwise be New York's 'keeper. But according to Backe, Coundoul was held out of the game-day roster because he was feeling ill after returning late on Friday from a midweek friendly with Senegal.
“When he came back, he had a fever," said Backe, who attributed the sickness to all the travel.
Because of Coundoul's illness, the team called in league pool goalkeeper Konopka, whom Backe praised on Monday for making a good impression in training. The head coach described the young goalkeeper’s work as “outstanding” on the practice field, and he even preferred him to roster goalkeeper Alex Horwath for Saturday's game.
But Backe said he anticipates calling on Coundoul this Saturday when the team travels to New England, even though he missed training on Monday because of stomach flu.
“[Coundoul] hadn’t trained with us one session this past week; he went direct from Salt Lake to play for Senegal,” Backe said. “It’s ridiculous to play a guy with that travel schedule.”
Solli getting close
Two games ago, right back Jan Gunnar Solli limped off the field at Rio Tinto Stadium with a hamstring pull. Though the former Norwegian international missed Saturday night’s game, he could return this weekend.
“I guess Solli will be back,” Backe said. “He should be in for the weekend game.”
Though he was acquired from Sporting Kansas City last Friday afternoon, Stéphane Auvray was a welcome addition to the thin Red Bulls bench on Saturday and was used as a second-half substitute. Auvray’s Red Bulls debut was solid and his stint on the field produced some good tackles and distribution.
Backe called Auvray a “backup to [Teemu] Tainio,” but added that he could make a run at the starting lineup.
“If he shows he’s good enough, he’s a starter,” Backe said. “We’ll see how he plays.”
• Backe said that the date to make a decision on Luke Rodgers’ plantar fasciitis injury is Sept. 5. If his heel has not progressed by then, the English forward will need surgery.
• The Red Bulls manager described the LA Galaxy's signing of Irish international Robbie Keane as a good move for the league.
"He’s definitely the type of player who will fit in the MLS,” Backe said. "Not only will he score, but he’s a phenomenal team player."
• After the acquisition of Auvray, Backe said the club doesn’t anticipate any other personnel moves.
• Midfielder Joel Lindpere was sporting a bruise on his nose and stud marks on his face after suffering a first half kick to the head.
“I’m all right," Lindpere said Monday. "I will train and play."
Kristian R. Dyer can be followed at twitter.com/KristianRDyer