UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J. – Brandon Barklage filling in for the suspended Connor Lade might not be the only change to the New York Red Bulls’ defensive unit this weekend.
Goalkeeper Bill Gaudette picked up a lower back injury in Wednesday morning’s training session and his status for Saturday’s home game against Toronto FC (7 pm ET, streamed LIVE online) is up in the air. Head coach Hans Backe said Gaudette should be able to train on Friday, but him starting would depend on how fresh he feels.
If Gaudette cannot go, midseason acquisition Luis Robles would stand in his place. Robles (above) has looked good in training in recent weeks, but Backe is unsure if that will translate to games considering the 28-year-old netminder has not played in an official match since December of last year.
“[Robles] hasn’t been playing competitive games, I don’t know if it’s more than half [a] year or something,” Backe told reporters on Thursday. “He’s done two reserve games and he’s done very well in those two reserve games.
“Doing phenomenal in training sessions, but as always when you don’t have the competitive games, you never really know where you stand and how you will react but he looks very, very solid so far.”
McCarty at right mid still a possibility
Rafa Márquez’s injury may not signal the end of the Dax McCarty’s move to right midfield, according to Backe. The coach has not ruled out deploying his diminutive midfielder out wide again vs. TFC.
“He can play both positions,” said Backe. “When he plays more as a holding [midfielder], it went very well for him and then we have used him, more in a flat 4-4-2, in a wide position. I still think that his best position is central but you can use him wide too without a problem.”
Backe pleased with Cahill
Tim Cahill has scored only once and added three assists in his first eight games in MLS, but Backe is more than satisfied with his Australian Designated Player.
“He’s been great for us,” said Backe when asked if he wanted to see more from Cahill. “The work rate, he’s so, so competitive, very positive guy, lifting the other guys performance, so I’ve been very happy with him.”
Forget the East?
Some Red Bulls players have admitted they are still hopeful of claiming the top spot in the jam-packed Eastern Conference despite being five points back with four games to go in the regular season. But Backe said the onus right now is simply on making it into the postseason.
”Try to get into the playoffs and just be there and go from there,” said Backe. “I don’t feel we should talk about winning the east. Now, we play three home games out of four and that should be a huge advantage for us, but let’s just focus on getting into the playoffs and winning on Saturday.”
Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at Franco8813@gmail.com.