UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J. – New York Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe recently made it known that he does not consider Joel Lindpere or Mehdi Ballouchy central midfield options, instead preferring to play them on the wings.
But the recent rash of injuries that’s struck the team and a likely suspension to Rafa Marquez are probably going to make Backe reconsider his stance. Lindpere, for one, has no problem with that.
“I’ve been in the center all my life and I miss it, and one day I would love to play there fully again,” Lindpere told MLSsoccer.com following Tuesday's practice. “But if the team needs some players to stay playing in the middle over outside [or the other way around], players have to do it and manage because we are one team.”
Lindpere, who has been forced to the bench by Mehdi Ballouchy the past two weeks, spent much of his first season with the Red Bulls playing as a central midfielder and fared well there. The Estonian scored three goals and had six assists in 2010 before enjoying a strong second season in MLS last year while playing wide left.
Still, Lindpere admits he feels most comfortable playing in the center of the field, even if his more productive season with the Red Bulls came while he was playing on the outside.
“I played a whole season in the middle,” said Lindpere. “I think I did a good job. It’s not easy to just go and play one game in there and fill somebody’s spot, but I think it is not so difficult [either].”
MILLER TO MISS D.C. UNITED MATCH
Roy Miller’s injury turned out to be more serious than originally thought.
The Costa Rican left back will miss at least this weekend’s match against rivals D.C. United at RFK Stadium with what is being called a left knee effusion. Miller originally sustained the knock during last Friday’s training session, but he re-aggravated it in the second half of the Red Bulls’ 2-2 draw with San Jose.
Red Bulls assistant coach Jan Halvor Halvorsen, who ran Tuesday’s training session as Backe tended to personal matters, said Miller would be out for a “couple weeks.”
LADE READY IF CALLED UPON
With Miller out, rookie outside back Connor Lade is sure to receive his first start as a professional against New York's biggest adversary. It’s a challenge he recognizes, and one he is prepared to tackle
“It’s a big rivalry and I know it’s always fun to play in games like that,” said Lade. “Regardless of what game it is, who it is, I just have to try to do my best and do well for my team.”
Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at Franco8813@gmail.com.