UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J. - As if playing one of the top teams in the league isn’t enough, the Red Bulls are hopeful to avoid another letdown this weekend with as many as six key players out of the lineup.
Winless since July 6, New York will suit up against FC Dallas on Saturday (8:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online) without Jan Gunnar Solli (red card suspension) and defenders Rafa Márquez (yellow card accumulation) and Roy Miller (hamstring). They know that much for sure.
But with defender Tim Ream and the strike pairing of Thierry Henry and Luke Rodgers hampered by their own injuries and considered game-time decisions, Saturday’s match is shaping up to be an uphill battle for New York.
“Any team we’re playing away or at home right now is a challenge. We’re trying not to look at who’s going to be missing or not,” Henry said. “We have to go and try to win some games. We didn’t win a lot of games this year but we didn’t lose a lot. We’re going to have to try to grab some points.
“I don’t know where [or] how,” Henry said, “but we’re going to have to try and do it.”
The Red Bulls’ current form, though, is enough cause for concern without the suspensions and injuries.
The difficulty for New York has been slow starts. The Red Bulls have made a habit of heading into halftime down at least a goal, forcing them to scramble for a point at best. The ability to equalize in the second half has been impressive (including a gutsy 1-1 draw against Vancouver last weekend), but it also takes away energy that could go towards getting three points.
“We’re a team that doesn’t give up because we quite often come back in the game, but we have to act instead of reacting, and that’s what we need to do,” Henry said. “It’s always great to win on the road, we all know that. When you look at our record on the road, it’s not the best one in the league, but we’re going to have to try and win games away.”
Road wins have been a sticking point this season for the Red Bulls, who have slipped all the way to the 11th spot in the league standings, one point off the pace for the final postseason slot. They’ve won just once away home in 14 games (a 4-0 romp over D.C. United on April 21, nearly five months ago), and they face an FC Dallas team that boasts an 8-3-3 record this season at Pizza Hut Park.
“We’re in a situation where we need points; more than one point,” midfielder Stephane Auvray said. “It is always the same recipe for me it’s just that you have to forget the last game, remember what you did good. You have to forget about the other games because you can’t do anything about it.”
What exactly the Red Bulls do against FC Dallas is uncertain, but this much is clear: the Red Bulls can’t wait much longer to get their playoff push in gear.
“We will go down there to try to win the game because we can’t sit down and try to get a result,” head coach Hans Backe said. “We need to get a win.”