Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By DAN KARELL
New York Red Bulls manager Mike Petke could have quite the selection issue on Sunday.
Dax McCarty is nearing his return from a right quadriceps injury suffered on April 20, but even without him in the lineup, the Red Bulls have continued unbeaten, winning three and drawing one. Petke wouldn’t go so far as to naming him in the lineup for Sunday’s match against the Los Angeles Galaxy, but he did say he’d be part of the 18.
“Dax was in full training today, he’s still feeling it a bit here or there, but I think he’ll be all right,” Petke said on Tuesday during his weekly conference call with the media.
“I’m pretty sure he’s going to be on the 18, but what role he’s going to play will be determined this week how he looks, how he feels, if he feels like he’s game ready, and if we feel like he’s game ready for 90,” Petke added later in the conference call. “It’s all about fitness, and he obviously doesn’t have his fitness yet. As far as the (quadriceps injury) goes, I feel its coming along great.”
McCarty had started the Red Bulls first nine games, and when he comes back, Petke will have to decide who to play in central midfield between Tim Cahill, McCarty, and Juninho.
Here are some more notes from this week’s press conference:
CAHILL AND MILLER LIKELY TO MISS TIME FOR WCQ’S
As the FIFA dates for World Cup qualifiers come closer, the Red Bulls have begun to operate with the expectation that they’ll be without two of their starters for a long period.
Australian midfielder Tim Cahill and Costa Rican left back Roy Miller are expected to be called up by their respective national teams for some key matches set to take place between June 4 and June 18, meaning that the May 26 match against Columbus could be be the pair’s last for four weeks.
“He’ll be here through (the match against) Columbus,” Petke said about Cahill’s status. “I anticipate he would not be available for the Vancouver game on June 1. I know he’s got some pretty big qualifiers coming up, and I guess Australia’s fate for the World Cup will be determined in early to mid-June.”
Australia currently sit in third place in the fourth round of AFC World Cup qualifying with six points, just one behind Jordan, who they will host on June 8. The Socceroos need just a top two finish to qualify for Brazil 2014. Costa Rica are in second place in CONCACAF’s Hexagonal round, with matches against Honduras and Mexico to come in June.
Petke commented that he had heard from Australia’s federation so far, but not from Costa Rica’s, though he said he wouldn’t be surprised if they request Miller for the qualifiers.
MEARA, HARTMAN COULD BE AVAILABLE IN JUNE
It’s been ten months since goalkeeper Ryan Meara played a competitive match, but the Fordham product is closer to a return to first team soccer.
Meara has continued to rehab from season-ending hip surgery and after playing in some reserve league matches and intra-squad scrimmages, Petke is hopeful that he’ll be in the 18 in a month’s time.
“Meara continues to do well, we’re looking at him very closely,” Petke said. “Within the next month I would hope he’ll be eligible for the 18 on the bench, and we’ll take it from there. I’m being optimistic in saying within the next month, if everything goes fine, he’ll be eligible to be on the 18 roster.
When asked about Meara’s potential availability for U.S. Open Cup matches, Petke wouldn’t go so far as to say he would start but said that if the Red Bulls are still in the tournament’s later stages, there’s a good chance that they may use him.
“I wouldn’t think that Ryan would be ready to play 90 minutes yet,” Petke said. “As the tournament goes on and his fitness gets better, that’s always an option for sure.”
The Red Bulls boss also said that goalkeeper Kevin Hartman is improving his fitness, and could be available for games next month as well.