UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J. – Aside from the absence of midfielder Lloyd Sam, the New York Red Bulls are likely to deploy the same starting lineup for a second consecutive week.
That’s what head coach Hans Backe admitted to reporters on Thursday morning, stating that the team that topped Toronto FC 4-1 this past weekend is all but set to battle the Chicago Fire in this Saturday’s crucial Eastern Conference clash (3:30 pm ET, live chat on MLSsoccer.com).
“I think the guys who played Toronto deserve another chance,” Backe told reporters. “They were playing one of the better games, both attacking and defending wise, and the only guy that is probably out is Lloyd Sam. Then of course we have to look in, [but] I know quite well which one I will start.”
Whether Backe opts to start rookie Connor Lade or Jan Gunnar Solli at right midfield in place of Sam is still unknown.
What Backe did reveal is that goalkeeper Luis Robles will start a second straight game for the Red Bulls despite incumbent Bill Gaudette likely being healthy enough to play.
“Luis played well so he’s been banging on the door for quite a long time and played solid,” Backe said. “He will play on Saturday.”
Fit Márquez ready to contribute
Rafa Márquez might not start for the Red Bulls in this Saturday’s game against the Fire, but it seems probable that he will dress after returning to full health earlier this week.
Márquez had been sidelined with a hamstring strain since the Red Bulls’ 1-1 draw with the New England Revolution on Sept. 22, and he would play in just his 13th game of the season if he sees time against Chicago.
“I’ve been training 100 percent with the team since Wednesday,” Márquez told MLSsoccer.com “I did so again today, so the coach knows that I should be ready for Saturday.”
The Designated Player admitted slight concern to having suffered through multiple injuries this season, but he also revealed why he thinks they’ve happened.
“That’s because I haven’t been playing regularly so as to get into a rhythm,” said Márquez. “It’s also been some bad decisions in terms of doing too much that have left me out, but you learn from this and you hope to try and stay healthy for the rest of this year and next season.”
Should Márquez play against the Fire, he could face off against a former Mexico teammate in Pável Pardo. The Chicago midfielder is an injury concern for the Fire heading into Saturday’s match, while forward Guillermo Franco, another former Mexico teammate, is suspended for the game at Red Bull Arena after receiving a red card in Wednesday’s loss to the Philadelphia Union.
“It will be good to see them after such a long time of not talking to them and seeing them,” said Márquez. “Now that they are in MLS, it will be very special for me to be able to play against them.”
Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at Franco8813@gmail.com.