HANOVER, N.J. – The New York Red Bulls’ defensive anchor is back.
After serving a two-game suspension for violent conduct in a 1-1 draw against Real Salt Lake on July 30, Jamison Olave is ready and available as the Red Bulls prepare to host the Montreal Impact in an Eastern Conference contest on Saturday (7 pm ET; MLS Live, TSN2, RDS in Canada).
Olave, 33, missed a 2-1 win over the New England Revolution and 1-0 loss to the Chicago Fire during that ban, but his reintroduction to the group is an added bonus for a New York team looking to get back to .500 and solidify their postseason berth.
“To have him available is great to give me another option, another choice,” said Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke. “At the end of the day, we need three points at home against Montreal, so I’m going to put the team on that I think is going to get me the three points.”
Never one to tip his hand, Petke may not have divulged if Olave would start at Red Bull Arena on Saturday night. But the Colombian center back still seems poised to make his comeback given his wealth of experience, pace and toughness.
Olave has started whenever he’s been available this year, minus games played on turf, so it is a safe bet that he resumes in his starting role against the Impact.
“His presence, obviously, and the way the guys in this league know about him, they know how strong he is” said Red Bulls captain Thierry Henry about what the hulking defender brings to the table now that he’s back in the fold. “… So it’s always a good thing to have him back.”
The Red Bulls will be without at least one player on Saturday and maybe several more. Young midfielder Michael Bustamante underwent ACL surgery earlier in the week and is out for the season, and he could be joined on the sidelines by veteran fullback Kosuke Kimura (hamstring), central midfielder Ian Christianson (calf) and wide option Bobby Convey (sick).
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The 24-year-old Bustamante did not make an appearance this season, but Petke was still disappointed to see his sophomore midfielder get ruled out for the year with an injury sustained last week in training and just before CONCACAF Champions League games get underway for the club Tuesday against CD FAS.
“We had hopes for Bustamante,” said Petke. “We were definitely looking to fit him in at some point this year and the future. We still have hopes for him. He was devastated by the injury, and we were very sad for him. These things happen. I told him that it’s better that it happens at this age than at 32, 33, when possibly it’s ending your career. He’ll bounce back. He’s a tough kid.”
Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached by email at Franco8813@gmail.com.