Wilman Conde may have played in his first MLS game in nearly three months on Sunday, but it appears he will not make a second consecutive start for New York this week.
According to Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe, Conde is likely to be rested for Wednesday’s road game against the Vancouver Whitecaps at BC Place (11 pm ET; TSN in Canada, MLS Live in the US) in part because of New York’s hectic stretch that includes three games in eight days.
HIGHLIGHTS: CHI 3, NY 1
The oft-injured Colombian center back is coming off a 90-minute performance in a 3-1 loss to the Chicago Fire, and with another game against rivals D.C. United looming on Sunday, Backe seems prepared to rest Conde versus the Whitecaps
“We know we have to be a little bit smart with Conde now,” Backe told reporters on a conference call on Monday. “I don’t think he will be able to play three games in one week. I’m quite sure he won’t be playing Vancouver.”
Pearce not de facto left back
With Conde out on Wednesday, Backe said Heath Pearce could fill in for him at center back. Pearce played there earlier this season for New York and, despite being a natural left back, Backe does not consider him the de facto starter over Roy Miller just yet.
“I can’t say that Heath or Roy are the first choice playing left back,” Backe said. “But Heath is very versatile, he can play three positions and we just need to be smart to perhaps not take risks for the Wednesday game.”
No problems with the int'l break
The Red Bulls looked rusty and out of sync in their defeat to the Fire, but Backe wasn’t willing to lay the blame on the international break, despite having 24 days between league games.
“I felt that we needed the break,” he said. “I think everyone was quite fatigued after all these games, traveling was quite tough for everyone. I don’t think it should be any problem, we had around five days off to get some energy back. … I would say the break was quite good for us.”
News & notes
- Backe himself won't be at the Vancouver game as he tends to personal matters. Assistant coaches Jan Halvor Halvorsen and Mike Petke will take over managerial duties at BC Place.
- Mehdi Ballouchy will not travel to Vancouver because of his on-going green card issues.
- Less than 800 tickets remain for the Red Bulls’ home game against rivals D.C. United on June 24.
- Backe continued to express confidence that Designated Players Rafa Márquez and Thierry Henry would return from their injuries against United, saying he was “100 percent sure” the duo would be back in time.
Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at Franco8813@gmail.com.