Thierry Henry has rejoined the New York Red Bulls after missing this past weekend’s game, and head coach Hans Backe is hoping his star striker will make quite the impact in his return.
Speaking to reporters via a conference call on Tuesday morning, Backe said Henry has not been physically inactive despite missing last Friday’s training session and Sunday’s 1-1 draw at Sporting Kansas City following the birth of his son. Backe hopes that will translate onto the field in Wednesday’s important Eastern Conference clash with rivals D.C. United at RFK Stadium (8 pm ET, Galavision).
“He trained individually on Sunday, Monday, two quite hard sessions,” said Backe. “He’ll have more of a soft session today and I definitely hope now when things are done with the birth and everything that he definitely could be flying tomorrow.”
Backe talks defense
When the Red Bulls revealed their starting lineup against Sporting KC, many questioned why Wilman Conde (right) was starting at left back instead of at center back. After all, Conde has rarely, if ever, played that position.
Backe explained the reason for that decision on Tuesday, citing Conde’s strength and Markus Holgersson and Heath Pearce’s familiarity with each other as the reasons why he deployed the Colombian as a fullback.
“The reason why Wilman played left back against KC was definitely the physical strength of KC,” said Backe. “We know that it would be a battle of set plays and I’m surprised he could play that well as a left back. I mean that’s not normally his best position, but he played phenomenally well defending-wise and also think he could be an attacking guy.
“Markus and Heath Pearce like to play with each other, they understand the game quite well the way they play,” Backe added. “Then Connor, once again, after perhaps having a tough game against Portland, bounced back and almost closed down [Kei] Kamara and Kamara switched sides. The way he battled one-v-one, it’s just great from this young guy.”
Pálsson heading to Nijmegen
MLSsoccer.com reported Monday that Victor Pálsson was on his way to the Netherlands to join a club on loan, and now that destination has been identified.
Backe said the 21-year-old Icelandic midfielder will be heading to Nijmegen Eendracht Combinatie (NEC) of the Eredivisie with the hope that he furthers his development by finding consistent playing time, something that proved difficult while with the Red Bulls this year.
“It’s been tough for him to get in and get minutes or be a starter,” said Backe. “It’s every time, you need as a coach or club to look into the player’s development, and nothing will happen if he just stays on the bench and plays very few reserves games, so it’s an easy decision.”
No word yet on how long the loan is for.
Sam expected to be available for United
Lloyd Sam did not dress for the Red Bulls’ 1-1 draw with Sporting KC on Sunday, but his MLS debut may come vs. D.C. United. Backe said he has not received final confirmation on Sam’s availability from technical director Ricardo Campos yet, but he nonetheless believes the 27-year-old midfielder will suit up on Wednesday.
Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at Franco8813@gmail.com.