HARRISON, N.J. — A bit battered and bruised. That is the state of the New York Red Bulls’ starting lineup right now.
Three Red Bulls players that are every-game starters under normal circumstances have been dealing with respective injuries in recent days and weeks. While they are all on the road to recovery, their timetables for a return to action all differ.
Here’s a rundown of just where they stand as of Wednesday, four days before the Red Bulls host Atlanta United in an Eastern Conference showdown:
Wright-Phillips did not train with the Red Bulls on Wednesday. The 34-year-old striker continues to be plagued by an injury that has kept him out of action since April 20, a 1-0 road loss against the New England Revolution.
“He just seems to have a little bit of soft tissue in the pelvic area, in the groin area and it’s lingering,” Armas told SBI. “We wonder, ‘Is this the game to push and we can?’, but we are taking the advice from the doctors, the medical staff and Brad and we’re coming up with the plan. We’ll have to make that decision because it’s a really important game, but we want to still set him up for success with this and (make it) a thing that’s behind him.
“We’ve got to wait for a few more days.”
Is there a more exact timetable for the veteran forward’s recovery?
“I’m hoping that it’s some minutes for the weekend,” said Armas, referring to the upcoming Atlanta United bout before referencing the ensuing Vancouver Whitecaps and FC Cincinnati matches. “Then we’ll be looking quickly ahead to the next stretch of games, one of those.”
The Red Bulls and U.S. Men’s National Team defender sustained a hamstring injury last Wednesday in the second half of a home loss to the Montreal Impact. After the 2-1 affair, the 26-year-old Long said he hoped to just miss the weekend fixture vs. FC Dallas, but that seems more than optimistic at this point.
“He’s progressing fast, Aaron is progressing quickly,” said Armas. “He says he’s a fast healer, we’ll see, but yeah he had a strange play where he reaches for the ball and he has some tightness behind his leg a little bit, his hamstring. This one seems to be another week or so, not positive, but we’ll be smart with him as well.
“We’ve been pretty good with this stuff, not pushing guys too early, so potentially that next one.”
Finally, there’s the case of the Red Bulls’ captain and goalkeeper. Robles was seen limping off the field after the full-time whistle in the midweek loss to the Impact, and he was on the trainer’s table longer than usual in the immediate aftermath of that match.
The 35-year-old Robles did not play nor did he dress over the weekend in that 3-1 triumph over FC Dallas, but he, at the very least, participated in the initial stages of training on Wednesday. The second portion of practice was not made available to the media.
“It was just labeled as tightness in his calf,” said Armas. “He had a little bit of an issue in the preseason that became a little more of an issue because we pushed, so this was a little bit of a signal for us to just be smart with him.
“There’s three games in a week, there’s a lot going on, he really pushed hard in the week, stayed after at training to do some more running on one day and he stayed after doing some more footwork another day. We had some tough trainings and the game. The demands were high.
“We choose to be cautious with that. He’s had no pain now for a few days, so we’ll have to take a closer look.”