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Red Bulls Notes: Backe sounds off on Open Cup, Tainio’s prognosis worsens

Backe (Getty Images)


Two messages have stayed consistent since the Red Bulls began their quest to compete in the 2012 U.S. Open Cup. First and foremost, they are in it to win it. Second, coach Hans Backe is not happy with the tournament structure set out by U.S. Soccer.

Disappointed by the U.S. Open Cup schedule release, Backe fired his latest salvo at the tournament as his team readies itself for tonight’s fourth-round match against the Harrisburg City Islanders.

“If we win tomorrow, we will have to play the third game on the road, which makes me a little bit frustrated when I look at other teams getting three home games in a row,” Backe noted. 

The Red Bulls, who tried to buy out the home-field advantage for this match but fell short in their attempt, will either play at D.C. United or at the Philadelphia Union in the quarterfinal round, should they get by the Islanders. 

“I would like to see who makes the draw," Backe said, echoing some of the sentiments put forth by Seattle Sounders coach Sigi Schmid. "In every other country in the world you do it on tele. No one knows what is going on here, so I’m a little bit pissed with that, I must say.”

Compounding on his disappointment is the litany of absences the Red Bulls will have to overcome for the match. Thierry Henry will once again be out as he nurses his hamstring back to full health. Teemu Tainio continues to battle a career-threatening ACL injury. Tyler Ruthven was served a suspension for a red card picked up during his last match in U.S. Open Cup competition as a member of the Islanders (suspensions carry over tournament to tournament). 

“I had no idea,” a frustrated Ruthven said. “The fact that I didn’t play (against Charleston) and that I’m suspended again is beyond frustrating.”

In addition to that, five Red Bulls are absent due to international duty: Rafa Marquez, Roy Miller, Joel Lindpere, Dane Richards and Victor Palsson.

“It’s quite difficult when you play FIFA games the same time you play the Open Cup,” Backe said.  "We are very shorthanded. We have 13 outfield players. That’s the whole roster that is left: Only three subs. But that’s all the guys in."

Still, even with the roster adversity, Backe remains true to his other consistent message. 

“It’s a high priority," Backe said. "Like we said in the beginning of the year, we should make a run for the Cup.”

Not all is terrible about the team’s road to the U.S. Open Cup this year. According to Backe, the one thing that has gone the team’s way is a more favorable MLS fixture.

“It’s a better schedule; a much, much better schedule,” Backe noted. “When you do not have the travel to the West Coast, it makes everything so much easier.”

Part of the coach’s issue with the FIFA date scheduling this year is that he did not anticipate the wrinkle in his club’s calendar.

“I thought in the beginning we would not play the Cup during FIFA dates, but we do,” Backe said.

When asked if fan outcry pushed his decision to take the Cup more “serious” this year, he simply noted that it was “More about the travel and the schedule, that is it.”


Every update on Tainio’s health seems to become more dire each week. The Finnish midfielder is desperately battling a career-threatening ACL injury, and his prognosis continues to worsen.

“I wouldn’t be surprised (if he had a career-ending injury),” Backe noted. 

In an attempt to salvage his playing career, the Red Bulls are experimenting with different healing methods to save his knee from further damage.

“That’s why we also took the decision not to have the surgery and have some of this new stuff with injections, trying to heal the ACL,” Backe said

Even if those methods work, his road towards a return is still a distant goal. 

“We are still talking six weeks just to get an answer if it will work,” Backe said. “Then also get in shape after being out 2-3 months but I think it’s the right decision. With the surgery, it would probably be a career-ender.”


  1. The Red Bulls were fined for making him available. Not sure why, everyone knows Backe doesn’t use his subs!

  2. Stream it online or record it and post it on the USSF website. Really not that hard at all. If the draw wasn’t an issue, people wouldn’t complain.

  3. The Red Bulls should have figured it out beforehand along with Ruthven… and if they didn’t the USSF should have figured it out before the game too.

  4. yeah, i don’t get that either. if the guy is supposed to be suspended for red card, then he shouldn’t even be allowed to dress. so the fact that USSF let him dress last game and then now decided to enforce the suspension this game makes no sense to me. maybe i am missing a key detail though.

  5. Why doesn’t the US Open Cup do the draws/coin flip on “tele”?

    Because about twelve people would actually watch it. That is why. Stop complaining.

  6. So I guess being available to play meant he was not formally suspended. Whose mistake is it? If he was suspended, shouldn’t he have not even been on the bench?

    Your USSF at work.

  7. So last season, Backe didn’t know about the Gold Cup. This year he doesn’t know when cup games are scheduled. Is it too much to ask our head coach to look at the schedule? Statements like that are embarassing and unacceptable.

  8. Somehow Backe says it and it sounds funny. Schmidt says it and he sounds like a d-bag. However, what they are saying is obviously true. I think the real issue here is that for some reason US Soccer doesn’t give a crap about this tournament and makes every effort to keep it extremely low profile. If Concacaf is going to offer up a CCL spot to the winner, then we better start respecting the competition. As it is now, it’s a joke to give a CCL spot to the winner of this tournament.

  9. Backe complains too much. Very tiring.

    But, I have to give him credit for two of the criticisms he’s raised. He’s right that the open cup fixtures should not fall on international match days (or even during the window) and that the draw needs to be televised/streamed.

  10. Sunil Gulati cheat? USSF stands with Sepp Blatter so I guess that answers the question to their integrity.

    More importantly, I hope Tainio gets better! The guy was solid when he was playing and always a force on the field.

  11. I believe he suited up, though didn’t play, for their prior USOC match – so he still hadn’t served the suspension.

  12. When else can Open Cup matches be scheduled? If they were held any other time Backe would be complaining about “congestion” during an already busy MLS season. The guy is just looking for excuses ahead of the Red Bulls’ inevitable crash out of the competition.

  13. Ruthven was on the bench and “available” for the first match. Serving a red card suspension requires that you aren’t even suited up. Seems legit to me.

  14. How does Ruthven’s suspension carry over to the team’s second USOC match? Shouldn’t it have simply been “applied” to the match against Charleston?

  15. It’s good to see MLS coaches getting fired up about the US Open Cup draw! I am sure they did it behind closed doors because they assumed nobody even cared. Maybe next year it will be an event!

  16. If it really is a career ender hopefully the Red Bulls can pick him up in some coaching role, he seems like a good guy.

  17. Wow that would be a tragedy for Teemo and RBNY. Seems like a good dude and always put in a good shift for the team. Get better Teemo!


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