August 10, 2016
Trying to keep Red Bulls' backline intact is one difficult task for Marsch during a busy period
By Michael Lewis
Center back Gideon Baah was the first one to go down in the Red Bulls' recent spate of injuries.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
If the Red Bulls manage to reach MLS Cup, it just might be considered a miracle.
Not because they're not good enough. They have plenty of talented and experienced players who could help them made a deep run in the playoffs.
Whether they will have enough healthy legs or bodies when the playoffs role around, is another matter.
In a season that has been defined by injuries to starting defenders, the Red Bulls have three on the sidelines at the moment as they enter one of their most stressful periods.
Starting Saturday, they will begin a three-game in nine-day stint as they host the Montreal Impact at Red Bull Arena, travel to San Salvador, El Salvador to face Alianza in a CONCACAF Champions League encounter Tuesday and then return to the states to visit D.C. United at RFK Stadium on Sunday, Aug. 21.
And the Red Bulls will have to find way to wins and accrue points without several players who were starters this season.
This is what their walking wounded looks like as of Wednesday morning:
In chronological order:
* Center back Gideon Baah is likely to be lost for the rest of the season with a broken tibia
* Left back Connor Lade, who was at right back in the 2-2 draw at the LA Galaxy, is lost for the year with a torn right ACL
* Center back Damien Perrinelle, who recently returned from his knee injury suffered during last year's MLS playofffs, will be sidelined from four to six weeks with meniscus and ankle injuries.
That doesn't include Aurelien Collin, who started the Galaxy match on the bench due to a head injury he suffered in the 3-0 win over Antigua GFC in the CCL match before he was called into service when Perrinelle was forced to leave in the 30th minute.
And that also doesn't include striker Bradley Wright-Phillips, whose status was uncertain, pending the results of a Tuesday MRI. BWP left the LA affair for Gonzalo Veron two minutes into the second half.
Wait -- I'm not finished. All of that comes on the heels of the knee injury to captain and midfielder Dax McCarty, who is out from four to six weeks after injuring his knee 10 days ago.
As for the team's walking healthy, there's Chris Duvall, Sal Zizzo, Kemar Lawrence and Justin Biyleu on the flanks, Ronald Zubar and Collin in the middle (Duvall and Lawrence have served time at central defense this season). Of course, there's always Red Bull II to use as a resource and if push really came to shove during a game, the gut feeling here is that someone like Sean Davis could fill in in an emergency basis.
Canadian international Karl Ouimette is on loan to Jacksonville Armada FC for the rest of the season, but it wouldn't be surprising if the team recalled him if more bodies drop.
Patching together a defense was defined as early as March 19 when Baah and Zubar went down with hamstrings in that incredible 4-3 home win over the Houston Dynamo.
There is no doubt that head coach Jesse Marsch will have his work cut out for him when he tries to piece together his lineup and particularly his back four over the next month and beyond.
He also will have to pray that no one else gets injured (and sidelined players heal quicker than expected) because what looked like a deep defense has been decimated.
Everyone knows that injuries are part of the game.
It's just the Red Bulls' list of ailments this season, particularly in the back, just goes on and on and on.