HARRISON, N.J. – The New York Red Bulls may have found a winning combination against D.C. United this past weekend, but the quick turnaround they are facing may force head coach Mike Petke to change things up a bit.
Fresh off a 2-0 road win on Saturday over United, the Red Bulls are set to host Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday (7:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online) in the second of their three games in an eight-day span. That scenario has Petke and his coaching staff seriously considering whether some reserves could move back into the starting lineup against Sporting KC, especially with another home game against the New England Revolution looming on Saturday.
“It’s one of those things that we played well on the road to get a 2-0 win and it’s one those things do you really want to change the lineup,” Petke told reporters after New York’s training session inside of Red Bull Arena on Monday. “But also you have players who might need a little bit of a rest and we have players off the bench that have done well in practice and have earned it.
"We’re a bit undecided at this moment exactly what the lineup will be Wednesday but it will be as strong as we possibly can do.”
Petke added that managing minutes for seasoned veterans like Thierry Henry and Juninho is something the Red Bulls’ staff plans on taking into consideration when deciding if backups like Péguy Luyindula and Lloyd Sam start in either of the two upcoming matches.
“Going into Wednesday and Saturday, of course it’s something we need to discuss because we need to prepare beforehand, not trying to scramble to make decisions on the field,” said Petke. “These guys want to play, all of them. It’s tough to convince them that they need a break. At the end of the day, it’s my decision, so of course I need to figure out what’s best for the team these next two games.
Petke also admitted that forward Fabián Espíndola is in the mix to start against Sporting KC after coming off the bench against United and Luyindula could be available as a substitute on Wednesday after missing this past weekend’s match with a hamstring issue.