HANOVER, N.J. – After enduring two bye weeks just four weeks into the MLS season, there’s no time for rest on the horizon for the New York Red Bulls.
A Week 2 bye and a rescheduled match to accommodate the Montreal Impact in their CCL campaign frustrated the Red Bulls as their intermittent schedule impeded their ability to maintain a rhythm in league play. Now the tables have turned, as New York are in the midst of a three-game homestand that sees them playing three matches in just seven days.
For all the consternation surrounding their early-season byes, it hardly seemed to faze the Red Bulls as they have avoided defeat through their first six games. And though it is still early going in this 2015 campaign, small knocks and fitness concerns may force head coach Jesse Marsch into some squad rotation decisions as he aims to keep the team fresh while maintaining their fast start.
“It’s a delicate balance,” Marsch said after training on Monday. “We don’t want to put tired legs on the field, but we also don’t want to disturb some of the chemistry of the group. So trying to exactly get that balance right is not easy. We also think there’s a lot of guys that have earned opportunities to be on the field, so in these next two games we need to figure out which faces those are.”
Three games in seven days may be a tall order, but the fact that the bevy of games comes at this early juncture in the season is preferable for New York. If the team was lamenting its inability to build momentum due to the early-season byes, there is now ample opportunity to translate its hot start into even more positive results.
“It’s early in the season, so I feel that we’ll be alright coping with the three [games] this week,” winger Lloyd Sam said. “In England, we played Saturday-Tuesday for weeks in a row, so I don’t think it’s too crazy playing three in a week.”
As the team continues to traverse this tricky spell of games, a Wednesday home game against the Colorado Rapids (7:30 pm ET, MLS LIVE) signals another chance to extend their unbeaten streak before heading up I-95 to take on the New England Revolution on Saturday (7:30 pm ET, MLS LIVE). And while some starters may be given a rest after playing to a 1-1 draw against the LA Galaxy on Sunday, others will look to fill the void.
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“For the guys that have played a lot of minutes in the first six games, of course they’re going to feel tired,” midfielder Dane Richards told MLSsoccer.com. “But I’m sure they had good regen today, so I’m sure they’ll be ready for Wednesday that we know is a tough game.
“We have a deep squad, and that’s very good in these close games. I’m sure the coach is going to rotate the players and everybody will be fresh to go.”
Certain positions, such as left back and both outside midfield spots, have been highlighted as ones that Marsch may look at for these upcoming matches, but the evaluation process remains ongoing.
“[It includes] which players are ready to go and which guys came out of [the game vs. the Galaxy] in a good way and will be ready to go again on Wednesday,” Marsch added. “Then we’re trying to figure out the balance of chemistry and player personnel on the field. We’re trying to do it in a way that’s smart but not too cute.”