BY DAVE MARTINEZ
Though the New York Red Bull’s backline certainly pulled off a miracle this weekend against the New England Revolution, they will face a far more difficult challenge as they head out West to take on a struggling but ever-dangerous Los Angeles Galaxy side.
“When you go on the road against teams like LA, (you must try to) defend well, minimize mistakes, and be sharp all the time,” Coach Hans Backe said. “Just aggressive in all actions, defending, attacking, set plays – then you have a chance.”
With a healthy David Beckham returning to the lineup, alongside Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane, the Red Bull defenders will certainly be tested. Tyler Ruthven will once again partner with Markus Holgersson to form the heart of the Red Bulls’ defense while Connor Lade is expected to get the call on the left in place of an injured Roy Miller.
The patchwork defense will be buoyed by the return of right back Jan Gunnar Solli, who took part in practice this week and appears ready to go. “I feel 100%,” the Norwegian defender said. “It’s up to the coach how much he wants to use me.”
“(I’ve) been training two days now and it felt good. Today was the time to get back into the playing and it felt good. Ready to travel!”
Solli has been out of action after picking up a calf strain in the 4-1 loss to DC United. “It was a little bit strange injury,” he said. “I had a little strain in the upper calf so basically some inflamed areas, some fluids so it was making it tight all the time. I just had to get rid of that. The last two days of training has done good to me.
“I think it was a wise decision to skip the New England game,” he continued,”especially when we got away with a win and I am very happy for all the guys. We didn’t concede any goals. It was a good performance and a great win, three points, so now I am just happy to be back and contributing. I’m going to do my best.
“Today I didn’t feel anything. I have a few bruises here and there. That's how you know you are fit and ready to go.”
The ailing Red Bulls could use all the help they can get as they face a heavily favored Galaxy team in their only encounter of the season.
“You look at our points, we go on the road, I don’t think many expect that much from us and still I think we have the possibility to surprise in that game,” Backe said. “It’s about just minimizing mistakes and just try to be as effective as possible – then you can win these games on the road.”
BACKE WANTS RED BULLS TO PLAY AGGESSIVELY
Though the circumstances may be daunting heading into Los Angeles, Backe wants the team to play with poise.
“I think the confidence must be on top,” he said. “I think it’s more that the players take their own decisions in this game and just don’t sit and stay and are just not active enough.”
The Red Bulls’ coach feels that the plethora of injuries that have plagued New York may influence his side to play too safe. “Sometimes I just have the feeling when you get new guys in that they are a little bit afraid of doing things by themselves decision wise,” he said. “If I say something, then some of these guys do it for 90 minutes, even when they have 10 other options. Just don’t be passive in this game. Just play your game and work hard because the way we worked against New England was phenomenal with these guys.
“It’s all about the transition. If we sit back and not take adv of the breaks, then we have a problem.”
NEWS, NOTES AND QUOTES
- Juan Agudelo is flying out with the team to Los Angeles. According to Backe, the young American striker could see 20-25 minutes of pitch time. Agudelo has been out of action since the season opener against FC Dallas. He suffered a meniscus tear while training with the US Under-23 men’s national team in March.
- Though he doesn’t expect to tinker much with the teams tactics, Backe did indicate that he was still contemplating whether to go with one or two strikers for the road encounter. Either way, he ruled out the possibility of pushing Dane Richards up top in that role.
- Roy Miller will train with the team on Monday and should be available for Wednesday’s encounter against Houston at Red Bull Arena.
- Wilman Conde is expected to start training with the team by the end of next week. His timetable for a return remains at 2-3 weeks.
- Teemu Tainio’s timetable also remains at 2-3 weeks.
- Rafa Marquez will be back from suspension for the midweek match against the Dynamo.
- Hans Backe on the returning Jan Gunnar Solli: “He's a machine. Fitness wise, that is a guy that is absolutely top fit all year round.”