UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J. – New York Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe hasn’t been required to make too many difficult lineup decisions this season.
That’s the benefit of being able to lean on a stacked roster even when injuries to various players crop up. And while his team is healthier than it has been in recent weeks, Backe likely still won’t have to make any tough choices just yet.
Instead, international commitments may force his hand.
Despite having most players available for selection for this Sunday’s road game against the Chicago Fire (Sunday, 5 pm ET, NBCSN), Backe is still likely choose his starting XI carefully thanks to the midweek arrivals of the club’s international players. Backe is concerned about the short turnaround from playing in a midweek fixture, meaning he may opt to rest Rafa Márquez (Mexico), Roy Miller (Costa Rica) and Victor Pálsson (Iceland) for the clash with Chicago.
“The problem is when you get internationals back from their games, they are always fatigued,” Backe told reporters after Thursday’s practice. “They’ve been away for 10 to 12 days and my experience says that you shouldn’t play these guys three days after a midweek game because they are too fatigued.
“You never know, we’ll see tomorrow in the training session, but I remember when we had the players in England coming back to Man. City, the Brazilian guys, it was almost impossible to play them the Saturday or Sunday games, so normally we should rest them or have them on the bench.”
Flying from South America to England is a much longer trek than going from Central America to North America, and that difference in travel could pave the way for Márquez, Miller and Dane Richards (who has not yet arrived at Red Bulls camp from Jamaica duty) to start vs. the Fire.
“It’s definitely a difference with the time difference and things like that,” Backe said. “Perhaps it’s not that bad with these guys playing in the CONCACAF.”
Márquez, Pálsson and Miller arrived from international duty on Wednesday and did light work separate from the full team during Thursday’s session. Joel Lindpere returned from time with Estonia earlier in the week and was in full training on Thursday.
Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at Franco8813@gmail.com.