After Saturday night’s game with Real Salt Lake, New York Red Bulls head coach Juan Carlos Osorio admitted to concerns over the health of the team’s key striker and designated player, Juan Pablo Angel. The former Colombian international was removed from the game in the 65th minute.
“Unfortunately we train on turf and I can’t deny the fact that that takes a toll on players,” said Osorio. “As a precaution we took him out early. Hopefully he will be good to go.”
At issue is Angel’s hamstring. He struggled with a similar injury at the start of last season that was caused by an arthritic nerve-related injury in his lower back. It is not known if this is the same injury or a newer one. Angel for his part did not seem concerned. “I was sore during the week and it was pretty much a precaution,” he said after the game.
If Angel cannot go, the Red Bulls will be short their main attacking threat. Macoumba Kandji has showed promise this season but the team lacks depth at the forward position. Dominic Oduro or John Wolyniec could fill in alongside Kandji or Osorio could go with a lone striker.
Either way, Osorio is clearly not afraid to tinker with the lineup and the fact that the team finally played well Saturday, winning their first game of the season, does not change this. Asked if he would use a similar lineup in Thursday night’s game at Kansas City, Osorio replied with a curt “No.
“You know me well enough, depending on who we play I always take that in consideration plus there are other guys who deserve the chance,” he said.
The coach did concede that after Saturday night’s performance–the team’s best by far in five games this season–it would be difficult to make wholesale changes. But with two games in four days, he will be forced to rotate bodies. “We will have two games Thursday and Sunday, so we need to keep everybody fresh,” he said.
Jeremy Hall is suspended due to the red card he picked up late in Saturday’s match. Carlos Johnson will likely start in his place. Kevin Goldthwaite and Carlos Mendes seem to have developed a strong rapport in central defense, but Goldthwaite has his own injury worries. Andrew Boyens should see some action in either or both of the upcoming games. Alfredo Pacheco impressed in his debut at left back and should be the obvious choice to start at that position. Albert Celades did not dress for Saturday’s match but should hopefully be available.
More will be learned when the team releases its official injury report. Either way, Red Bulls fans can expect changes to their team’s lineup. Nothing new there.