UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J. – This late into the season, it’s essentially a given who will start between the pipes for most MLS teams.
The New York Red Bulls are not one of them.
Heading into their penultimate match of the season, the Red Bulls still do not have a de facto No. 1 goalkeeper. Head coach Hans Backe said Tuesday that both Bill Gaudette and Luis Robles are in contention to start in goal on Saturday vs. East-leading Sporting Kansas City, but that a decision will not be made until later in the week.
Robles has started the last two games in place of Gaudette, who was suffering from a lower back injury but is now back to full health now.
“They are both banging on the door, they are very even,” Backe told reporters on Tuesday. “It’s mostly having to have a look at every session, how sharp they are. When they’re that even it has to be that way, the sharpest guy.”
Both goalkeepers have shown signs of being capable starters for the Red Bulls this season. Robles performed fairly well in his two outings, but the sample size is still small. Gaudette, meanwhile, has proven to be a quality netminder when he’s on, though he did look suspect to crosses before suffering the back injury.
Backe still content with Cahill
Tim Cahill has not produced the type of offensive output one might expect from a Designated Player since signing with the Red Bulls in late July. But Backe is still pleased with what the Australian attacker brings to the table for New York, even if it does not come in goals and assists.
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“I don’t analyze like that,” Backe said. “I’m looking more the way he contributes in our build-up, in our defending game, that kind of role. I’m not looking into the number of assists or goals for him.
"He will always be a threat in the attacking game and for set plays and he’s a phenomenal defender from the midfield position or second striker position, so I must say for me he’s an absolutely top man.”
Red Bulls to honor slain coach
The Red Bulls will honor former Youth Training Programs coach Mike Jones on Saturday during their final regular-season home game of 2012.
Prior to kickoff, there will be a minute of celebration and applause to pay tribute to Jones (which is more customary in England, where Jones was from, than a moment of silence) and a photo montage will be shown in memory of his life and the work he did in his five-plus years for the Red Bulls youth programs.
All the New York players will also be honoring Jones by wearing black armbands and the No. 6 that Jones wore throughout his playing career on their shorts. Fans may give their condolences to Jones’ family by going to the Youth Training Programs tent in the Interactive Zone outside of the stadium starting at 5:30 pm ET. The location of the tent is on Riverbend Drive.
Jones was killed on Oct. 7 in New York City. He was 25 years old.
Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at Franco8813@gmail.com.