The World Cup is coming again soon and the impact on MLS rosters is starting to take effect. The Red Bulls will feel this pinch on their roster very soon with both Tim Cahill (Australia) and Roy Miller (Costa Rica) expected to be requested to report to their respective national teams as soon as next week.
Red Bulls coach Mike Petke has an infamously bad relationship with the head coach of the Costa Rican national team, which should be tested yet again if they want Miller to leave New York shortly after the match tomorrow night versus the Chicago Fire. The Red Bulls will certainly miss Miller as he is a key player in their defensive structure and he has played very well this season.
I think Petke was hoping to keep both his stars until after the match against Toronto FC on the 17th, and MLS might force the Red Bulls hand here and have the players released for World Cup duty before that date. I understand both sides of this situation, the Red Bulls are in the middle of their season, trying to compete and win matches. The national teams want to get their star players into the fold early without exposing them to potential injury while they play in a regular season MLS match.
The Red Bulls have been very fair with Tim Cahill and have not pushed his recovery from the hamstring injury by limiting his minutes. I think if his replacement is Connor Lade, that will certainly produce a drop off in the lineup for New York. However, this team has shown the ability to adapt to adverse situations, and in the end Petke will probably use Steele and McCarty in different roles to offset the loss of Cahill.
The loss of Miller is an entirely different issue, if the Red Bulls sustain an injury to their backline while he is gone at the World Cup, they will have some problems depth-wise on their roster to overcome that setback. The most likely replacements are Kosuke Kimura and Ibrahim Sekagya. I like both of those players and their respective defensive capabilities, and I think Petke can use them in a platoon type scenario splitting time at the position. The biggest problem for Sekagya is getting into trouble with hard fouls, if he is lost to a yellow card or red card suspension, that could be a big issue for this club.
Conversely, it looks like Armando finally has regained control of his emotions and has limited his incidences of getting cards on hard fouls in the defensive third. The team is going to need him to play major minutes with the loss of Miller, and I think he is up to that task.
Despite the Red Bulls getting crunched early by these World Cup player designations, they have hit their stride, I hope it continues in the absence of two key players. If you think the Red Bulls got hit hard by the World Cup roster movement, check out the impact it will have on Sporting Kansas City, they will have a tough summer ahead for them courtesy of the world's biggest soccer tournament in Brazil.