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Good evening folks (and good afternoon on the West Coast). As we wind down another week it is time to go over some tidbits heading into the weekend, and some stories we missed during the week.
Let's start with Fredy Montero, who is expected to play for the Seattle Sounders vs. Kansas City on Saturday. He looks to be over his flu and Sigi schmid told the Seattle Times' Jose Romero that he expects Montero to play. Adjust your fantasy teams accordingly.
The Red Bulls look to be without Macoumba Kandji and Alfredo Pacheco for their crucial tilt vs. the Houston Dynamo. Kandji missed training this week with the ankle injury suffered vs. Chicago and did not travel to Houston, while Pacheco has yet to have his ITC card come in, which would clear him to play. Pacheco traveled to Houston, but that appears to be more of a move to get him integrated into the team (the latest update from Houston is that Pacheco did NOT receive his ITC and will not play vs. Houston).
As for the importance of the Houston match, the Red Bulls sorely need some points, but calling it a must-win is a stretch. Yes, the Red Bulls are off to a slow start, and yes, another loss would be detrimental to the club's chances going forward, but anybody projecting playoff possibilities in early April has way too much time on their hands. There are 26 more games after the Houston game and heading into this weekend the Red Bulls have played arguably the three best teams in the league (Seattle, New England, Chicago). There is still time to make up ground. The real question is whether the players coming in will help turn things around.
So what lineup should we expect to see for the Red Bulls on Saturday? Here's one possibility (along with the rest of our notes from the week):
Red Bulls projected lineup vs. Houston
So why no Albert Celades? There are still issues with his fitness so he doesn't appear quite ready to start. That said, he should play some. Another lineup option for Osorio would be a 4-2-3-1 with Oduro or Smith on the left flank with Luke Sassano in central midfield with Stammler and Rojas. The back-line looks to be the same as last week. Yes, Carlos Johnson is active now but I can't see him unseating Hall at right back. As for the centerback position, Mike Petke looks to still be out of favor as Osorio goes with the quicker Goldthwaite and Mendes. Given Goldthwaite's struggles in recent weeks though, it wouldn't shock me if Petke got another chance. The question is whether Osorio would have confidence in Petke staying with Kei Kamara, who has the speed to cause some problems.
What will be interesting to see is just what Houston will have in store for the Red Bulls. Will the Dynamo trot out a 3-5-2 like last week, or will Dom Kinnear choose to drop Geoff Cameron alongside Bobby Boswell in central defense, freeing up the left wing for Corey Ashe to start and use his speed to try and neutralize Dane Richards. One thing is certain. Wade Barrett can't be sleeping too easily tonight.
Here are some other stories from the week that we did not touch on, that you may have also missed:
U.S. national team defender Jonathan Spector is expected to miss two weeks with the concussion he suffered in West Ham United's match vs. Sunderland.
The U.S. men's national team moved up to 15th in the FIFA World Rankings. Mexico dropped to 25th.
Trinidad & Tobago head coach Francisco Maturana resigned on Wednesday, naming Russell Latapy player-coach.
What do you think of these developments? Do you see Montero putting the drama of the past two weeks behind him and getting back to his goal-scoring ways? Can you see the Red Bulls pulling off another win in Houston? Think Trinidad & Tobago has any chance of qualifying for the 2010 World Cup?
Share your thoughts below.