Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Tuesday Red Bulls News Roundup

The Red Bulls were back in training at Montclair State today after their fortunate 2-1 victory over Dallas on Saturday.  The first visits of rival-to-be Philadelphia Union are on the horizon, with an early 4pm game on Saturday, then a US Open Cup match on Tuesday (8pm kickoff). 

Much has been made of the attendance in the wake of Saturday, with some observers going so far as the resurrect the tired "energy drink" argument to help explain the modest 13,667 crowd.  While players and fans would love to see sell outs every week, that's simply not going to happen immediately, if ever.  Though players were somewhat disappointed with the crowd size on Saturday, they emphasized that the atmosphere was still day and night compared to last season.  Even with fewer than 15,000 fans in the stadium, Red Bull Arena has an aura that the Meadowlands never had with twice that number.

The move to Harrison has been huge net positive and has helped attendance and season ticket sales spike significantly, but let's remember that this is still a team coming off a five-win season, without a single player that a casual fan might recognize (sorry Juan Pablo).  It's also a team that is still largely ignored by most influential hometown media.   A big-name designated player or two should help move the needle and build momentum, but the stadium won't automatically fill itself absent players that casual fans want to see and at least some sustained success on the field.

Erik Stover, in an interview with Big Apple Soccer, addresses the attendance issue and predicts a crowd in the upper teens for this Saturday.   Philadelphia should be bringing a large contingent of fans and the crowd should be buzzing.  You'd better be there too.  If you're not you'd better have a good excuse!

On the injury front, Carl Robinson, whose knee has been drained of fluid twice in the past week due to a cyst, trained today without pain and should be available for selection on Saturday, barring a setback.  Mac Kandji, on the other hand, will most likely be out for an indefinite period with a right foot injury, after leaving training today on crutches.  That leaves Salou Ibrahim, or perhaps Conor Chinn, to partner Juan Pablo Angel in attack, with the left midfield spot a mystery.  Dylan Butler of the Post reports that Dane Brian Nielsen will be arriving tomorrow and could be asked to step in and start immediately, despite a lack of training.  Other options on the left include Sinisa Ubiparipovic and Austin da Luz, who has yet to step on the field in league play this season. 

One player who will not be suiting up for the Red Bulls anytime soon - if ever - is Luke Rodgers.  The feisty Englishman has had problems securing a visa due to his criminal record in the U.K. Hans Backe seems confident that the paperwork and appeals process will eventually work itself out, but unless things change, the earliest we could see Rodgers in a Red Bulls shirt is June or July.  On that note, the club will close the book on transfers until the summer arrives.  Of course there could always be a trade on the horizon.  Backe also seemed to shoot down the Alessandro Del Piero rumor when asked about it today.  Throw another one on the scrap pile!

PS: For what it's worth, Massimo Lopes Pegna, who broke the Del Piero story in Gazzetta dello Sport, sat down with Greg Lalas of mlssoccer.com today to discuss the rumor. Here's video of the interview:

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