This is the first of our new set of "Bulls Abroad" pieces, where we'll track how New York Red Bulls players do overseas.
After May 18th, the Red Bulls will be without the services of Tim Cahill and Roy Miller until (at least) the end of the World Cup group stage. May 18th is the FIFA date for clubs to release all players selected for the World Cup. However, the Red Bulls have been asked to give the players up early.
Costa Rica, Australia feds have asked for Miller, Cahill after Fire game. #RBNY don't have to release until after TFC. Decision not yet made— Franco Panizo (@FrancoPanizo) May 6, 2014
It's an interesting topic to consider. The Red Bulls aren't obligated to release the two until the 18th, and they have an important match north of the border against Toronto FC on May 17th. Toronto will also be facing a similar situation as they'll be without Michael Bradley as it seems all US players will report to camp on May 14th. That still leaves Jermain Defoe (England) and goalkeeper Julio Cesar (Brazil), which there has been no official word on. I would imagine that Toronto would allow them to leave early also. So that means the Red Bulls could go into Toronto facing a severely weakened Toronto side.
On the one side, I would say that the players should be forced to stay. Their respective federations aren't paying their salaries, the Red Bulls are. So why not get one last game out of them when they are already going to miss at least 3 games (5/24 vs Portland Timbers, 5/27 at Sporting Kansas City, 6/7 at New England Revolution) and possibly more if they make it to the knockout rounds.
On the flip side though, the World Cup is such a prestigious tournament, and it's not right to deny a player ample time to prepare. Also, if Toronto does release their players early, it can be said that they'll be in a worse position down three starters. Additionally, considering Cahill has only started once in the last six matches, his loss wouldn't hurt as much.
Personally, I would let them go. Cahill's absence we can handle as we know. Miller's loss will be tough, but we need to learn to survive without him anyway.
It's a tough decision for Petke and company to make, and I don't envy them.