HANOVER, N.J. – The New York Red Bulls expect Sacha Kljestan to be available for Friday night’s home match against New York City F.C., so says head coach Jesse Marsch ahead of this season’s fourth installment of the derby.
Late in Friday’s 2-0 loss to the Portland Timbers, Kljestan gave a shove to Timbers defender Alvas Powell, sending the Jamaican international tumbling into the advertising signage around the field. The push was greeted by a chorus of boos from the Timbers faithful as well as a yellow card from referee Allen Chapman. The sense among Red Bulls fans was that retroactively, the league would suspend Kljestan for this upcoming match.
Marsch doesn’t expect that to be the case, telling Metro that he expects to have his captain available for Friday’s installment of the Hudson Derby. The Red Bulls head coach didn’t talk to his star midfielder about the shove.
“No, there’s nothing to say,” Marsch told Metro. “It wasn’t anything malicious — I think he was trying to…See, I think, bump him and get him to touch the ball and get out. It winded up looking more — I think Powell went down pretty easily and it wound up looking like a worse push than it was. There was nothing malicious.”
Having Kljestan on the field would be a major plus for the Red Bulls, assuming that the league office views the pushing incident the same ways as Marsch.
NYC FC has taken both meetings in regular-season play this year, but it was the Red Bulls who knocked their crosstown rival out of the U.S. Open Cup earlier this year.
There is more good news for the Red Bulls, who will boast a healthy and deep team for Friday’s match.
The Red Bulls backline might be healthier than originally thought, especially along their backline.
Center back Damien Perrinelle, who went off at halftime of last Tuesday’s U.S. Open Cup win at Cincinnati with an abductor injury, trained with his teammates on Monday and looks good to go for Friday.
In addition, Aurélien Collin, diagnosed with plantar fasciitis, had an MRI scheduled for Monday morning.
Marsch said he hopes his powerful center back will train on Tuesday.
Red Bulls Notes
-Recently signed midfielder Muhamed Keita trained in full with the team, a welcome bit of news. The former Norwegian U-23 has yet to suit-up for his new squad despite being signed several weeks ago.
A groin injury has hamstrung his ability to train let alone play.
“So he’s training full so that’s good. We worked a lot of fitness into last week when we were traveling. He looked good, he looked fit,” Marsch said. “He looks like he’ll be ready to go here.”
-After advancing in the U.S. Open Cup with a 3-2 win on Tuesday night at FC Cincinnati, the Red Bulls went with a young squad for Friday at the Timbers. It included several players that made their MLS debut (defender Fidel Escobar, midfielder Vince Bezecourt).
Also in the Starting XI was Dilly Duka, signed as a free agent two weeks ago. Duka didn’t play at all with the Columbus Crew this year and Friday were his first MLS minutes of the year let alone a start.
“I think all three fared very well. We were hopeful to get really good performances out of them and test them at a high level and I think we did both,” Marsch said. “And so we’re really happy where they’re at and I think they become options in many different ways. In particular, I think Fidel showed a lot of his character and a lot of his strengths as a player. Really good performance from him."