HARRISON, N.J. – The New York Red Bulls face a quick turnaround before visiting the Columbus Crew, but don't expect many changes from Mike Petke’s side.
In fact, there might not be any at all.
The Red Bulls had a light training session at Red Bull Arena on Thursday morning to begin preparing for Saturday’s match at Crew Stadium, a day after they handed the Houston Dynamo a thorough 4-0 defeat. The shortage of days in between games might normally force some coaches to think of making some changes, but New York boss Mike Petke sounded pretty sure that he might field the same starting lineup against Columbus.
“Honestly, there’s a good chance you don’t expect any change at all,” Petke told MLSsoccer.com. “Guys feel good, guys are healthy and we’ve put in two solid performances – one last night being better than the [2-1 win against the Philadelphia Union last week]. There’s a good reason to want to continue that.
“Obviously, if tomorrow some guys are [injured] there could be some changes, but overall I’m planning on looking at the same type of go.”
One area where Petke will have to make a decision is center back. Armando started for the Red Bulls on Wednesday night and fared well, but fellow veteran Ibrahim Sekagya is back from a one-game suspension and should be available for selection.
Tim Cahill is nearing his return to full health, but Petke said that does not guarantee the midfielder will be back in the squad just yet. New York have tried to be diligent over the past several weeks in trying to make sure Cahill does not rush back from the hamstring knock he sustained on March 30.
“Tim is close,” Petke said of the Australian, who played against the Union but did not dress against the Dynamo. “Whether that means he travels and plays a role is going to be determined today or tomorrow, but he’s definitely close.”
Two players who are definitely out due to hamstring problems are Bobby Convey and Richard Eckersley. Forward Andre Akpan, however, could return to the fray after a few weeks on the sidelines with a hamstring issue of his own.
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“Andre is close, too. Very close,” said Petke. “It’s a situation that I think I have the opportunity to bring him, but at the end of the day it’s almost like if you don’t have to you give him one more week [because] it would be better. We’re monitoring that. We have to figure out what’s best for the player, what’s best for us.
“We don’t really have many options up front at the moment, but then again I don’t want to just bring someone and he’s forced into a situation to play extra minutes and he gets injured again.”
Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached by email at Franco8813@gmail.com.