The New York Red Bulls are preparing to take on defending MLS Cup champion Real Salt Lake on Saturday and for the second time in a month, they will take on RSL without key starters.
Goalkeeper Bouna Coundoul, midfielders Rafa Marquez and Dane Richards and defender Andrew Boyens have been called in for international team duty and all but Marquez will miss the Red Bulls' showdown vs. Real Salt Lake in a match the Red Bulls need to win to keep their hold on first place in the Eastern Conference.
Coundoul and Richards were the Red Bulls' best players in the team's 1-0 win against Kansas City on Saturday and head coach Hans Backe will have his hands full trying to replace them. The good news for New York is that Marquez will be available to take on RSL.
So what will the Red Bulls look like without Coundoul and Richards? Here is a starting lineup we could see New York field against Real Salt Lake:
Projected Red Bulls lineup vs. RSL
Backe will likely choose from either Ballouchy or Seth Stammler on the right flank. Ballouchy isn't a winger, but could have the freedom to join the attack by floating centrally from the right side. Stammler has played on the right, and can play anywhere in the midfield. He doesn't have Ballouchy's attacking ability, but he's a considerably better defensive option, which Backe may determine is more important against a dangerous team like Real Salt Lake.
In goal, the Red Bulls will miss Coundoul's big-save ability, but Sutton played well in goal against RSL the last time these teams met and is a veteran capabable of stepping in and providing a capable replacement.
What do you think of the Red Bulls chances of beating RSL without Coundoul and Richards? Who would you start in place of Richards?
Share your thoughts below.