It was a busy day at Red Bulls training facility, what with three new players to speak to and plenty of other news to get into. I had lengthy interviews with Macoumba Kandji (pictured), Matt Mbuta, Terry Boss and Juan Carlos Osorio that I will look to post later today. For now, here is a rundown of some of the highlights from training and from the post-training interviews:
There is a small chance the Red Bulls game against Columbus on Thursday could be postponed until Saturday. The city of Columbus was recently hit hard by the remnants of Hurricane Ike, leading to power outages and the issuing of a state of emergency in Ohio. The game is still likely to be played on Thursday but the league is looking into contingency plans for a postponement.
Macoumba Kandji will probably be rested for the Columbus Crew match to give his injured right ankle time to fully heal. That would mean his Red Bulls debut would come against Colorado on Sept. 27th. He will wear No. 30.
Fans wondering of Kandji could one day wind up on the U.S. national team will be disappointed to hear that Kandji plans on playing for his native Senegal when given the chance. Kandji’s father was a Senegalese national team player and Senegal has been in contact with Kandji about coming to national team camps. He plans to go once his citizenship status is cleared up, thus allowing him to travel outside the country.
When asked what players he liked to pattern his game after, Kandji said Thierry Henry above all others. I was tempted to ask him what it would mean to play alongside Thierry Henry next year but left it alone.
One thing Kandji is not lacking is confidence. When asked if he thinks he’ll make a smooth transition to MLS, Kandji smiled and insisted he would.
Dave Van Den Bergh will have sports hernia surgery on Friday in Germany. The club decided to have Van Den Bergh have the surgery now because if it had wanted much longer Van Den Bergh would have had to wait until October to have the surgery.
Red Bulls coach Juan Carlos Osorio defended the decision to carry four goalkeepers. While he admitted that four is probably one too many on a 28-man roster, he doesn’t think the team has sacrificed depth in field positions in order to add Terry Boss. Osorio intends to have Boss, Danny Cepero and Caleb-Patterson Sewell compete for the two goalkeeper spots on next year’s roster and all three will see time in the team’s three remaining reserve games.
It should probably be noted that, as shocked as some people are about the Red Bulls carrying four goalkeepers, the club has essentially had four goalkeepers on the roster most of the season. Danny Cepero was taking up a developmental roster spot during his loan spell with Harrisburg, so Boss has essentially replaced Zach Thornton on the roster.
Speaking of Terry Boss, he revealed that he never played football like his brother, New York Giants tight end Kevin Boss, but that Kevin did play soccer until seventh grade. Boss is big (6-foot-3, 220 pounds) and is built like a linebacker. When Boss and Kandji (6-foot-4) crossed paths during the interview sessions it almost felt like being at a basketball practice instead of soccer practice.
For those of you who have lost count, the Red Bulls have added eight new players since July: Jorge Rojas, Gabriel Cichero, Juan Pietravallo, Diego Jimenez, Sainey Tourey, Macoumba Kandji, Matt Mbuta and Terry Boss.
Those wondering about Seth Stammler’s availability for Thursday (or Saturday) can relax. The Gahanna Gattuso trained fully today and looked pretty sharp (and yes I just made that nickname up. Sue me.)
Wondering what lineup we might see against Columbus on Thursday (or Saturday)? Here is an early guess (based on what I saw in practice today):
When asked whether the loss to Crystal Palace Baltimore in the U.S. Open Cup in July opened his eyes to the possibility of finding players in the USL, Osorio gave an emphatic "yes" as his answer.
That’s all for now. I will post more on Kandji, Boss and Mbuta either tonight or tomorrow morning. For now, share your thoughts on these notes in the comments section below.