UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J. — It has been a whirlwind two months for the New York Red Bulls.
The club has traveled West twice, including a three-game swing that saw them play Portland and Seattle back-to-back before traveling to Chicago. Less than a month later, they went back to the Windy City for the US Open Cup before finishing off July with games on consecutive days at the Emirates Cup in London and then beginning the month with a road trip to Utah.
For now, the red-eyes are over, but the heavy travel schedule has taken its toll on New York. Goalkeeper Frank Rost even suffered a cramp on the flight back from London and hurt his quadriceps. A much less hectic schedule should do the Red Bulls good as they find themselves in third in the Eastern Conference and battling for their playoff lives.
“It will be a huge difference,” head coach Hans Backe said. “We only have something like four games in five weeks now.”
As much as the home cooking may help when they host the Chicago Fire on Saturday night, New York still need to overcome last weekend’s dismal performance. New York got manhandled at Real Salt Lake, dropping a 3-0 result in a match which Backe said might have been the worst he’s seen during his nearly two years with the club.
The Red Bulls need to respond to the thrashing at Rio Tinto, and Backe’s solution, though general, is simple.
“Just bounce back,” Backe said. “Show a different attitude in this game. I think we will see it.”
Rost Out, Bouna Back
Newly signed Designated Player Rost is out for Saturday’s match with an injured right quadriceps, Backe confirmed on Thursday. The former German international was battling plantar fasciitis during Salt Lake’s second goal on Saturday night, a Luis Gil shot from distance. The goalkeeper barely moved as the ball flew past him and into the goal, and he was subbed out before the second half began.
After playing midweek during Senegal’s friendly with Morocco, goalkeeper Bouna Coundoul is expected to return to the team on Friday. Backe said that he is hoping to talk with Coundoul on Friday night or Saturday morning to see if he can start in place of the injured Rost. Backe also mentioned Alex Horwath and Chris Konopka as options if Coundoul is too jet-lagged to play, but he wouldn’t tip which one is the favorite.
Right back Jan Gunnar Solli was a second-half substitute on Saturday night with a right quadriceps injury that could shelve him for this weekend. The plan is to give the Norwegian a whirl in training on Friday morning, but Backe isn’t optimistic.
“I don’t think we can use him,” Backe said.
Fan favorite Joel Lindpere arrived at training sporting a new Mohawk. The haircut got some derision from his teammates and drew a laugh and headshake from Backe.
Juan Agudelo said it looked like Lindpere “got in a fight with a lawnmower.” It was a buzz similar to Dane Richards’ Mohawk last year.
“He didn’t ask me about it beforehand, it was all his decision," said Richards. "I guess he’s just trying to be like me."
But the Jamaican international pulled no punches in assessing the haircut.
“It doesn’t look like a Mohawk to me — more like a Crowhawk," he said. "That’s not a real Mohawk, not at all."
Kristian R. Dyer can be followed at twitter.com/KristianRDyer