BY DAVE MARTINEZ
The Red Bulls are knee deep into a 253-minute scoreless streak. If they hope to solve that dilemma, they may have to do it without their two main strikers.
Team captain Thierry Henry is still recovering from a knock suffered against D.C. United while Fabian Espindola is a question mark as team officials await word on the severity of his hamstring injury.
Henry is intent on being with the team’s starters against Philadelphia Saturday afternoon but is far from healthy.
“It’s one of the things I have to deal with throughout my career,” he told reporters after Thursday’s practice. “You play through the pain. Sometimes you can handle it and sometimes you can’t. As long as I can handle it, I will try to go out there or be available for the boss, but I came back a bit earlier than when I was supposed to be back. We’ll see how it goes. I’m taking it day by day.
“Where we are at the moment, you want to go out there and help. I am going to deal with the pain.”
Henry’s health issues magnify the team’s struggles this year as they remain winless through four matches. “It is (frustrating),” he said. “My knee went a bit – the type of thing you can’t prevent. I am going to try to put my head down, work and see when the pain is going to be more bearable. It’s a day by day thing.”
Just how severe is his MCL sprain? Henry is encouraged by the slightest of accomplishments on the training field. “I am actually happy I can run, turning, shooting,” he said. “I’ll try to push it and see what I can do.”
As for Espindola, his inclusion seems less likely. “Fabian, we are not ready to make a full decision on that,” head coach Mike Petke said. “Fabian is fit enough in life that he can afford to miss a day or two and still hold off until (Friday) to make a decision.
“I’m a huge risk-taker in life,” Petke continued. “I always have been with everything. With somebody’s health on my team, I’m not as much of a risk-taker.
“The best I could do is talk to my medical staff, which I trust very much, talk to the player and make the best decision that I feel is for first and foremost the player, his health and very close behind, the club.”
The Red Bulls cushioned their forward corps Thursday sending a conditional 2015 draft pick to the Colorado Rapids for 25-year-old American striker Andre Akpan. With Espindola and Henry possibly out of the picture, Peguy Luyindula, 33, becomes the senior striking option amongst a young core that includes Josue Martinez, 23, Rafhina, 21, 17 year old Academy product Amando Moreno and newcomer Akpan.