New York Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe was not lying when he said the club planned on taking the US Open Cup seriously this year.
Backe reiterated his plans for taking the tournament seriously on Monday, affirming he intended to use most of his regulars when the Red Bulls enter the tournament against USL Pro club Charleston Battery in the third round on Tuesday night at Blackbaud Stadium (7:30 pm ET).
“If you look from goalie and the whole back four, and then we include Dax [McCarty], we include [Jan Gunnar] Solli, Kenny Cooper, we’re up to almost eight guys that have been starters,” Backe told reporters.
One player who will miss the match is captain Thierry Henry, who Backe wants to take precautionary measures with due to the Designated Player’s still-tender hamstring.
“We decided to leave him out mostly because he’s not 100 percent in his hamstring,” said Backe. “It feels just stupid to take any risks with him.”
Henry might be out for the game, but that will not stop Backe from using a two-forward formation. Even with the lack of experienced forward options he has to choose from to pair alongside Cooper, the manager is determined to put out an attack-minded lineup.
“We will definitely play with two strikers up front,” said Backe. “We have some options. We could play [Jhonny] Arteaga, we could play Mehdi Ballouchy also up front. That’s probably the two mostly likely guys to get one of these two positions.”
Conde to be available
Red Bulls center back Wilman Conde looks set to end his spell on the sidelines.
The big Colombian, who hasn’t played since late March, appears ready to return to the field after recovering from the pesky groin injury that forced him out of action these last few weeks.
“He’s only done perhaps four, five decent sessions with us, but he’s been training a lot with our trainers,” said Backe. “So he should be, I guess, able to do 90.”
Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at Franco8813@gmail.com.