UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J. – Tyler Ruthven’s MLS debut did not go as well as he might have liked, but it doesn’t look like he will have to wait long to get another chance to step onto the field.
Ruthven (above) looks set to make his first MLS start when the New York Red Bulls host the New England Revolution on Saturday at Red Bull Arena (3:30 pm ET, NBC Sports Network, LIVE CHAT on MLSsoccer.com) with injuries to center backs Wilman Conde (groin) and Stephen Keel (back) forcing him into the lineup.
Ruthven is excited to finally start an MLS game, even after a enduring a shaky showing in his 45-minute cameo against D.C. United in last Sunday’s 4-1 loss at RFK Stadium.
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“Honestly, it wasn’t exactly how I dreamed it up as a little kid,” Ruthven told reporters of his MLS debut. “That being said, there’s probably some benefit in getting that out of the way before starting on Saturday. There’s no way to recreate that in training or know what it feels like until you’re out there, so it’s good to have.”
Ruthven will need to take the lessons learned from the match against United into Saturday’s matchup, as he is likely to play alongside Markus Holgersson in a makeshift Red Bulls backline that has little in the way of MLS experience.
But starting an MLS game is something Ruthven admits he has long waited for, having spent 2011 with NASL club Atlanta Silverbacks and 2010 with USL Pro side Harrisburg City Islanders after leaving the University of South Carolina in 2009.
Ruthven also acknowledges he feels “nervous excitement” as he nears his first start, and that he is not concerned about making errors against the likes of Shalrie Joseph, Benny Feilhaber and Clyde Simms.
“If you go in thinking that way, it’s already over,” Ruthven said. “You’ve got to play not afraid to make mistakes, and as far as I’m concerned, this is the same game I’ve played since I was a little kid. The stadium is just bigger.”
Barklage ready if called upon
Jan Gunnar Solli is being listed as questionable for the clash with the Revolution, and if he cannot suit up, Brandon Barklage will take his place.
Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe said on Thursday that Barklage’s combination of composure and MLS experience make him the preferred choice over Jonathan Borrajo to replace Solli at right back.
Having played at the position last year for D.C. United despite being listed as a midfielder, Barklage is not completely new to playing right back and is ready should his number get called.
“I like to think of myself as a versatile player, so wherever the coaches put me, I’m happy with it,” Barklage said. “I’m there for the team, and we’re looking to get a result.”
Backe issues "no comment" on Nesta
Reports surfaced Friday morning from Italian media that the Red Bulls are planning to hold meetings next week with AC Milan center back Alessandro Nesta, the 36-year-old who helped Italy win the World Cup in 2006.
Backe did not confirm the rumors nor did he deny them after Friday morning’s training session.
“All rumors, I’ll leave it up to the media to speculate,” said Backe. “Absolutely no comment from me.”
Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at Franco8813@gmail.com.