By DAVE MARTINEZ
Thought things couldn’t get any worse for the New York Red Bulls' defense? Think again.
Fresh off of a 4-1 loss to rival D.C. United, the defensively hobbled Red Bulls have just been dealt another blow, as coach Hans Backe has revealed centerback Stephen Keel will be out of action for a few weeks with back injury for which he was listed as "questionable" on the club's injury report as of Tuesday.
"Keel is out for minimum three weeks," Backe told reporters. "It’s a stress fracture in his back. That has been going on for a while."
The latest blow to the backline follows a litany of setbacks that has grinded New York's hot streak to a screeching halt. To make matters worse, the prognosis of many on the injured list has only further deteriorated.
Wilman Conde will now be missing 3-to-4 more weeks of action. Of the seven games played this season, he has only participated in two. Roy Miller, who was fighting an inflamed knee courtesy of a Marvin Chavez tackle against San Jose, will be out a minimum of 10-to-14 days.
Adding to the problems on the back line, Jan Gunnar Solli picked up a calf injury against D.C. He missed practice and underwent a scan of his leg today, though Backe said that was simply a formality.
In the midfield, the oft injured Teemu Tainio, who has started in two games while appearing in only three this year, won’t see the pitch until near the end of May. Rafa Marquez will miss the Red Bulls' next two matches against the Revolution and Galaxy before returning from suspension.
Even reserve players are feeling the injury bug as forward Jose Angulo took a hit from Brandon Barklage that forced him out of practice, clutching his knee.
The lone bright spot on the injury report is the status of Juan Agudelo, who could be ready for a return from a torn meniscus by next week’s fixture against Los Angeles. Still, that does little to provide answers for the severe depletion on the backline.
With all of the injuries, the team will have to rely upon the unproven Tyler Ruthven, who made his MLS debut as a substitute against D.C; a shaky Markus Holgersson, who has been responsible for his fair share of gaffe-leading goals in his first MLS season; and rookie defender Connor Lade, who made his first MLS start at D.C., against the Revolution this Saturday. If Solli is not available, New York will have to look towards another untested newcomer, Jonathan Borrajo, to fill in his place.