BY DAVE MARTINEZ
The New York Red Bull’s explosive offense has certainly managed to cover for some of the team’s more glaring weaknesses. Midfield production has been a major concern as has been the fortitude of their defense. Today’s revelations may just compound on those problems.
Wilman Conde, who has been a solid contributor to New York’s backline when healthy, has been ruled out for a month after re-aggravating a groin strain during practice. The injury is a major setback for the Colombian defender who is still nursing his way into game shape after a year-long absence from competition. “I’m a little bit afraid that it will keep going like this the rest of the season,” said Red Bulls Coach Hans Backe. “It’s not good but perhaps we should expect it.”
Fellow defensive newcomer Markus Holgersson sat out of today’s training as well, nursing flu-like symptoms. Holgersson has had a series of spotty performances in his early tenure for New York. Either way, the converted centerback is expected to start this weekend against San Jose.
On the midfield flanks, where both Joel Lindpere and Dane Richards continue to put up anemic numbers, Coach Hans Backe may look to continue his recent experiment, throwing Mehdi Ballouchy into the fray. The Moroccan midfielder practiced with the first team during training today while Lindpere roamed with the B-team. Meanwhile, one of the Red Bull’s more steady midfielders, Dax McCarty, was also limited at practice as he nurses a soft hamstring strain. Nevertheless, the coaching staff confirmed he will be made available for this weekend’s match at Red Bull Arena.
The Red Bull’s are far and away Major League Soccer’s goal-scoring leader (14), but that impressive statistic is blemished as they stand in a four way tie for third in the unenviable goals against category (8), trailing only the expansion Montreal Impact (12) and the struggling Toronto FC (9). Of the 14 goals scored, 13 have been put in by either Thierry Henry or Kenny Cooper, while Mehdi Ballouchy did the honors on that final notch as a late game substitution.
For those expecting reinforcements on the horizon, don’t hold your breath. As reported last week on SBI, Hans Backe continues to express doubts over the quality of player’s available in the current market. In fact, he said it would be highly unlikely that the team would add a player, before Sunday’s transfer window deadline despite recent reports to the contrary.
This weekend’s opponent, the San Jose Earthquakes, are one of the league’s hotter teams, but they have been hit by the injury bug as well. Stephen Lenhart is out for Saturday’s encounter while fellow target forward Alan Gordon is listed as doubtful. The dangerous wing combination of Marvin Chavez and Shea Salinas will be working extra time to find Chris Wondolowski up top, who currently sits third amongst all scorers in the league, trailing only Henry and Cooper.
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