HARRISON, N.J. – The New York Red Bulls have played more games than any other team in MLS at this point in the season, so naturally legs are beginning to tire.
As a result, Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke expects to make changes to his starting lineup on Wednesday against the Montreal Impact (7:30 pm ET, watch on MLS Live) and his recently stout backline is the prime candidate for alteration.
Speaking to reporters at Red Bull Arena on Tuesday, Petke reiterated that he would likely sit some of his regular starters against the Impact in a game that will mark New York’s league-high 12th of the season. Petke did not clearly say what changes he would make but he did offer some hints, with left back Roy Miller a likely candidate to be replaced on a defense that has surrendered just three goals in their last five games.
“I’m not sure if we’re going to start him because we’ve had so many games, he’s done well,” said Petke. “There’s a lot of guys up in the air about juggling the lineup possibly around because of the amount of games we’ve had, but we’re at home so it’s important to get a good showing.
“I think there will be some changes for tomorrow night but strictly to preserve legs and give guys a rest.”
Miller is not the only defender who Petke is considering giving a break to for the match between two of the four Eastern Conference teams tied for first place.
Right back Brandon Barklage was also mentioned as a player who could use a rest. Barklage has played all but 13 minutes in New York’s last six games, and his most likely replacement should he sit against the Impact is veteran Kosuke Kimura.
“I think Brandon is one of the key guys who is very tired right now,” said Petke. “He’s played a lot of games, we’ve demanded a lot out of him, so overall I think him and Kosuke are still fighting for a job and still battling.”
Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached by e-mail at Franco8813@gmail.com.