New York's Sunday night against Chivas USA (7 pm ET, Galavisión) has all the makings of a classic “trap game” for the Red Bulls.
Sitting atop the Eastern Conference, the Red Bulls come into the match flying high. Unbeaten in their last four with nine scored and just one conceded over that stretch, they host a Chivas USA side mired near the bottom of the Western Conference.
It would be easy for the Red Bulls to be overly confident given their current form — especially with forward Marcos Mondaini suspended for the match and unavailable for the Rojiblancos.
“I am a little worried about this week mentally,” Backe said on a conference call with reporters on Friday. “That’s most what I’m worried about.”
The schedule has been a hectic one this week for Backe’s club. The team flew back to Newark International Airport on Sunday following a 1-1 draw at the LA Galaxy, and had regeneration and light training on Monday. On Tuesday, Backe — along with Thierry Henry and Rafa Márquez — went up to Montreal a day early for a press conference ahead of the a midweek friendly against the Impact.
Wednesday, the rest of the team joined them for the friendly, a 1-0 loss. It all left New York with precious little time to prepare for the Chivas match.
“It will be a tricky game because of the preparation this week,” Backe said. “We haven’t had the kind of preparation we want due to the Montreal game.”
Eight of the 10 starters from the Galaxy tie started in Montreal, and Backe should again have his first-choice team for this weekend.
“Probably the same team, [but] Teemu [Tainio] will be back,” Backe said. “He’s been training Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.”
The attack should also benefit from the return of Luke Rodgers, who did not travel on Wednesday for the friendly with what the player called a “dead leg.”
“Luke was just resting,” Backe said. “Luke will be ready.”
Following a challenge late in the first half of the Montreal friendly, defensive midfielder Carl Robinsion was subbed out of the match in the 41st minute with a knee injury. The prognosis isn’t too good.
“Looks like the same injury as last year,” Backe said, noting that Robinson missed nearly two months of 2010 with a knee injury.
Miller Isn’t Golden:
Backe said that the Costa Rica national team has notified the Red Bulls that they will not take left back Roy Miller as part of the Gold Cup squad, but do plan to include the player into their plans for this summer’s Copa América. This was welcome news for the head coach, who is looking at Chris Albright as a potential fill-in for Miller on the left side of the defense; Albright saw his first action of the season Wednesday night in the friendly as he continues to recover from preseason knee surgery.
After making some choice statements on Monday about the Galaxy’s Landon Donovan, Rodgers still has the support of his coach. Backe wasn’t aware of Rodgers’ comments till later in the day when some players told him about the saucy remarks, and he hasn’t spoken to the player about his verbiage.
“I don’t bother, in a way, I don’t think it was too bad,” Backe said. “That’s the kind of character he is.”
Kristian R. Dyer can be followed at twitter.com/KristianRDyer