Ryan Meara
Courtesy of New York Red Bulls

RBNY rookie keeper Meara eager to make MLS debut

UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J. – Ryan Meara has endured a whirlwind of emotion over the last few months.

After finishing his senior season with Fordham University in November, Meara went through some nerve-wracking moments during the 2012 MLS SuperDraft in January before being selected by the New York Red Bulls in the second round.

Now, after having spent the preseason training with his childhood team, the 21-year-old goalkeeper is scheduled to start for New York in their 2012 season opener at FC Dallas on Sunday (3 pm ET, NBC Sports).

“I’m sure I’ll wake up Sunday morning and have some butterflies, but it is all good,” Meara told MLSsoccer.com on Friday. “I’m not scared. It’s all good energy. It’s good to be a little nervous before a game. That means you’re ready for it and it means a lot to you. Once you get on the field and start warming up, you’re in the zone. You’re not really thinking about much else.”

Meara is likely to be tested in the game at FC Dallas Stadium, especially with FC Dallas boasting a talented attacking group of players that includes Brek Shea and Blas Pérez.

That is not stopping Meara, who beat out Jeremy Vuolo for the Red Bulls’ starting goalkeeper spot, from feeling excited.

“Really looking forward to Sunday,” he said. “It’s been a long preseason leading up to the first game. It’s going to be nice to get the real games started”

Backe touches on Rodgers situation

Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe expected a final answer on Luke Rodgers’ visa situation on Thursday, but that was not the way it played out.

According to the club, Rodgers met with the US Consulate in London and “took a step forward in his visa approval process,” though no resolution was found just yet.

 “What I’ve heard, it’s still quite positive,” said Backe after Friday’s training session. “We just have to wait and see. I don’t know anything about the timeframe.”

Backe also said Rodgers is not training with Aston Villa anymore and that it appears the English forward will practice with Birmingham City in an effort to stay fit and sharp.

Ballouchy not an option to start in middle

Rafa Márquez will miss Sunday’s opener as he serves the first of a two-game suspension that was handed to him last year for his involvement in an altercation with the LA Galaxy.

That opens the door for someone else to start in central midfield on Sunday, and while Backe would not reveal the tandem to face the Hoops, one player who is not in consideration is Mehdi Ballouchy.

“Not really in the central position,” said Backe. “I would say Mehdi is more of a wide alternative or a second striker.”

Backe also said he will have to pick from Teemu Tainio, Dax McCarty and Victor Palsson to start.

Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com.

GET TICKETS to FC Dallas vs. New York Red Bulls, Sunday, March 11, 2012, 3 pm ET at FC Dallas Stadium. Watch it on NBC Sports Network.

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