Thierry Henry may be suspended for the New York Red Bulls’ upcoming game against the New England Revolution (Saturday, 7:30 pm ET; watch on MLS LIVE), but the team was never planning on playing him anyway.
That’s what Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe admitted during a conference call with reporters on Friday less than half an hour after MLS announced Henry’s one-game suspension for his head butt on Kei Kamara in Wednesday’s 2-0 loss to Sporting Kansas City. Backe said the reason for him keeping the Red Bulls captain out of the Eastern Conference clash was due to the field turf at Gillette Stadium.
“That’s one of the really hard ones to play on,” said Backe. “I think the only one that’s decent turf is Portland’s turf.”
Henry’s suspension is just the latest ban the star striker has received in his Red Bulls’ career. He was given a red card last season for an off-the-ball incident in a game that, coincidentally enough, was against Sporting KC.
Still, Backe does not plan on doing much talking with Henry about his fiery attitude.
“He’s a very, very experienced player,” Backe explained. “He’s won everything. I don’t think you kind of change a player’s, if you say, emotional things. That would just be stupid to try and change anything when he’s 35 years old. It’s more about having a chat about picking up red cards.”
Another player who will not be in uniform for the Red Bulls’ game with the Revolution is recently signed Digão. The Brazilian center back received his visa on Friday, but will miss Saturday’s match due to fatigue.
“He has a little bit of a soft, not injury, but a little bit overtrained I would say from training everyday so he will not be involved in [Saturday’s] game or the reserve game,” said Backe.
Lloyd Sam will not be in the starting lineup for the Red Bulls on Saturday because of fitness issues, but Backe admitted he liked what he saw from the midfielder in Wednesday’s loss.
“He was sparkling, definitely,” said Backe. “He’s a guy who can take players on, good crosses, he’s lively. Not quite sure yet if he’s ready to start a game and how much he can play but he will be there soon. He’s definitely banging on the door and could probably do 45-60 minutes, I would guess.”
Backe also added that Rafa Márquez will be able to play against the Revolution despite his recent return from injury, and that he was a bit concerned by Kenny Cooper’s most recent performances.
“Kenny is a guy who should be in the box for crosses and tap-ins and whatever it is,” said Backe. “When he came in we had a lot of possession, that should help Kenny when we control the game. It is a little bit of a concern, but it’s always with strikers, they don’t score in five, six, seven, eight games and then suddenly they start scoring again.”
Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at Franco8813@gmail.com.