HARRISON, N.J. – The New York Red Bulls and injuries have gone hand-in-hand for much, if not all, of the season.
And this week it’s no different.
The Eastern Conference leaders will be without three of their top players for their pivotal conference clash with the Houston Dynamo at BBVA Compass Stadium on Friday night (8:30 pm ET, NBC Sports Network, live chat on MLSsoccer.com).
Rookie goalkeeper Ryan Meara, defender Brandon Barklage and Rafa Márquez have all been ruled out, and only Barklage took part in training inside of a hot Red Bull Arena on Thursday morning – off to the side and with a trainer.
“I don’t know with Ryan,” head coach Hans Backe told reporters. “He’s still doing treatment and let’s see if he can get in perhaps, I don’t know really, it’s just speculation. I hope he can be in in a week or something like that.”
Backe added that he thinks Barklage will return to full training next week, but was unsure as to when Márquez would be back. Backe said the Designated Player’s recurring calf knock was not too serious, but he added it is one they do not want to take any risks with.
“It’s quite a soft one, a low grade one,” Backe. “But if you gamble with it and it breaks up then you’re out for a long time.”
While Márquez has not been heard from much during this injury-plagued season, Red Bulls captain Thierry Henry revealed that the Mexican international is extremely frustrated by his inability to stay on the field.
“He’s down, he’s down,” Henry said. “He wants to play, he wants to help this team. I went through the same thing with my calf; hopefully I’m way better, also with my hamstring. He’s down, he wants to help his team.
“I’ve been saying it for a long time, when you have a player like Rafa Márquez in your squad, you want him out there to help the team,” Henry said. “But at the end of the day, we all know it, health first. You’ve got to be in shape and that is the most difficult thing. “
New York did receive some positive news on the injury front, as both Heath Pearce and Jan Gunnar Solli will dress for the battle of the top two teams in the East on Friday. Solli played in the second half of the early week friendly against Tottenham Hotspur while Pearce sat out the 2-1 loss to continue to rest his hamstring strain.
Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at Franco8813@gmail.com.