HANOVER, N.J. – The New York Red Bulls’ depth is about to get seriously tested.
Already set to be without several starters for Sunday’s road game vs. the New England Revolution (5 pm ET; MLS Live), Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke said Thursday that defensive stalwart Jamison Olave is a question mark due to the turf surface at Gillette Stadium.
Olave has been predominantly held out of games played on artificial fields in recent years due to his history of knee issues, and, like captain Thierry Henry, is likely to sit out this Eastern Conference bout.
“With his knee, he’s definitely in the same category [as Henry],” Petke said of Olave following training on Thursday. “Like it’s been the last two-and-a-half years, like it’ll be in another month from now when we go wherever, it’s the same thing.”
If Olave and Henry both miss out as is expected, New York will be down five starters for their final match before the World Cup break. Tim Cahill and Roy Miller are with their respective national teams preparing for the tournament in Brazil and Dax McCarty is currently sidelined with a knee issue.
All that has left the Red Bulls coaching staff trying to piece together a lineup that will give the club the best opportunity to put an end to their current four-game winless skid.
“It’s tough, but it’s opportunities for other guys,” said Petke. “Guys need to step up in the absence of players like that. It’s opportunities for other guys. It’s going to be a big challenge for us up there, for sure.”
New York fans can take some solace in that Peguy Luyindula is ready to start and go the distance. He recently returned from a calf injury, but was unable to start due to some lingering discomfort. That is apparently gone now, making the veteran a likely candidate to start in New England.
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“Peguy’s doing well,” Petke said. “He practiced full the past couple days. He’s looking good, looking a bit sharp. We’re happy about that.”
Another piece of good news is that midfielder Jonny Steele is expected to be available for the match. Steele has been away on international duty with Northern Ireland, but it is anticipated that he could be in uniform against the Revolution after returning to the Red Bulls on Friday.
Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached by email at Franco8813@gmail.com.