HANOVER, N.J. – It will be a brutal stretch for the New York Red Bulls, a stretch of three games in seven days that starts this Saturday night at Red Bull Arena against the Chicago Fire.
The good news for the Red Bulls, who play at home on Saturday before going on the road to Kansas City on Wednesday and then Philadelphia on Saturday, is that they are a deep team that is getting deeper.
Outside of the centerback position, the Red Bulls have quality depth up and down their roster. And over the past two weeks, they’ve welcomed back wide players such as Gonzalo Veron and Mike Grella from injuries.
There are plenty of options and depth for this Red Bulls team and their head coach to choose from. But there are still plenty of challenges juggling lineups and rosters over the next week.
Head coach Jesse Marsch admitted that he “can kind of go from game to game. We have a little bit of an idea of who’s going to be available for what matches and what lineups might be used."
Though he cautioned that recovery and sharpness plays a role in these decisions.
“I think this first game, we’ll kind of take it as the first game of the series and put our best team out there. And then after that, we’ll have to make some adjustments and we have some guys coming back from injury at the right time, so building up their fitness and making sure we have a group that is ready to regenerate and go again,” Marsch said on Wednesday. “And then guys who haven’t played as much lately, that they’re ready to push and when they’re called upon they are sharp and ready to go. I think all those things will be important.”
One intriguing name to watch out for to perhaps take the next step over the next week is Hassan Ndam.
A centerback, Ndam is an offseason signing who was playing high school soccer last year for Montverde. He’s blended in easily into the USL squad, the Red Bulls reserve team.
Physical and able to read the game well, Ndam trained with the first team on Wednesday.
“I think he’s made really big improvements in the early stages of the USL season and that’s been really great to see,” Marsch said. “He’s still a young guy and he knows he has a long way to go but his approach has been really professional and very mature for an 18-year old. There may be an opportunity here, this week even with the three games coming up, to see if it makes sense to have available for one of these matches. We’ve been really happy with Hassan, really happy.”
· Sal Zizzo, injured late last week and unavailable for the win over the Columbus Crew last Saturday, trained with the Red Bulls on Wednesday. His calf strain appears to be progressing.
“I think there’s a high probability that Sal can be available for this weekend,” Marsch said.
· As for the aforementioned Mike Grella (knee), he trained for the first time in several weeks although he likely won’t be available this weekend against the Chicago Fire. He could be an option for the away matches in Kansas City and Philadelphia.