HARRISON, N.J. – The last time the New York Red Bulls had players returning from an international break, head coach Hans Backe made a point to talk about the fatigue they sustained due to the matches and travel. He went on to say that he might have to consider benching them after future national team appearances following their combined poor performances in New York’s first game back from August’s international fixture date.
That apparently will not be the case this weekend.
The Red Bulls had four players return from international duty this week and Backe said he was impressed with how energized they were, so much so that he is likely to start them in New York’s big Eastern Conference clash with the Columbus Crew at Red Bull Arena on Saturday (7 pm ET, watch LIVE online).
“I’m surprised that they are so fresh,” said Backe. “Joel [Lindpere] and Tim [Cahill] came back and the way they played, you can’t definitely see that they’ve been away for eight to 10 days and travel. They were flying, both. Surprisingly good, I must say.”
Bill Gaudette also came back earlier in the week after being called up by Puerto Rico, but it was not all good news in terms of the Red Bulls’ international players as Roy Miller sustained a groin injury during one of Costa Rica’s training sessions. Backe guessed Miller would be out two weeks, meaning the left back is expected to miss at least the impending three-game stretch.
Cahill talks MLS with Australian teammates
Cahill rejoined his Australian teammates during the international break for the first time since he became a Red Bulls player, and he received plenty of positive feedback from them while also providing some first-hand knowledge of what it is like to play in MLS.
“It’s the unknown for a lot of them,” said Cahill. “All the Australians tend to go to the Middle East and Asia and my choice was the MLS. Like I said plenty of times before, there’s a reason why the Premier League clubs and the best teams in the world travel to America to play against the MLS, because of the stadiums, the crowds, the level of football. I know in my heart that I made the right choice.”
Decisions on Digão, Paterson coming Friday
The Red Bulls have had midfielder Nicki Paterson and Brazilian defender Digão (Brazilian star Kaká’s younger brother) trialing for the past week and a decision on which, if either, of the two will be signed is expected to come on Friday.
“Both have done well and we still have a little bit of space to get one of these guys in if we want,” said Backe. “It’s more about what position are we looking for.”
Sam able to play 45 minutes
Lloyd Sam might not yet be fit enough to start for the Red Bulls, but Backe believes the recent signing is capable of playing at least a half in the their upcoming game with the Crew.
Sam was involved in one of the funnier moments during Thursday’s training session at Red Bull Arena. He was playing a two-touch juggling game with Thierry Henry and Jose Angulo after the practice had ended, and Sam kept playfully bickering with Henry about the rules of the game before Henry blasted a shot at Sam, who blocked the ball with his hands before tumbling to the ground with a smile.
Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at Franco8813@gmail.com.