WHIPPANY, N.J. – The New York Red Bulls are mending their wounds over their bye week, especially in defense, and there is no clear-cut answer on when their sudden injury crisis will ease.
Stalwart central defender Gideon Baah left their 4-3 win over the Houston Dynamo with a hamstring injury, as did his partner Ronald Zubar. On Wednesday coach Jesse Marsch called their injuries “significant” and put them both on a week-to-week timetable.
Marsch said neither would have been available this week if the Red Bulls had a game scheduled, but he added that “they're not so significant that we feel they're going to be gone for major time.” Still, it leaves the team scrambling.
With Baah and Zubar hurt and Kemar Lawrence and Karl Ouimette, who came on for Baah at halftime Saturday, gone on international duty, the Red Bulls brought in former Philadelphia Union, Orlando City and Sporting KC midfielder/defender Amobi Okugo (pictured below) for a look this week. At the moment, Zubar is more likely to return to health sooner than Baah.
Marsch and his staff are trying to figure out how to compensate in central defense – already a point of need after the Red Bulls allowed eight goals over their first three games.
"It's a good question,” Marsch said. “We're obviously very depleted there and we ended the game with two guys who are gone on international break. So it's a complex issue with us right now on where we are with that. We've brought in Amobi Okugo this week to look at him. We certainly need to get healthy, but in the meantime we need to get through it with what we have. It's a big challenge right now.”
Marsch also hasn’t ruled out looking outside of the organization for help, if need be, though it’s still early into the season.
“We have room in the roster to improve,” he said. “In the short term, I think yes, we're trying to figure out how to improve it. Long term, we're still being cautious as to what we think we'll need. It's still so early in the season. Center back is certainly a potential place where we do need to make improvements, but not yet."