With the deadline for teams to comply with MLS roster and salary cap rules now past, both teams are likely where they will be personnel wise for their respective season debuts. New York Manager Hans Backe and Jason Kreis of Real Salt Lake will use tonight's match less to evaluate players on the fringe of making the roster and more to get (healthy) first squad players one last chance together in a competitive match before the regular season begins next weekend.
The only considerations for Backe outside of making his strongest selections will be injuries and possible fatigue of players returning from international matches mid-week. Wilman Conde and Ryan Meara picked up injuries in Wednesday's exhibition against the L.A. Galaxy, and Victor Palsson is still recovering from a minor knee injury.
Joel Lindpere, Rafa Marquez, and Juan Agudelo are rejoining New York after their various stints representing their countries. Hans Backe indicated that Marquez is unlikely to play unless needed, but as kickoff approaches tournament host FC Tucson has said otherwise via Twitter. Regardless, tonight's starting lineup will likely be the same that begins the season against FC Dallas on March 11th, even if it means substituting tired players off at halftime. The projected lineup for tonight is Thierry Henry and Kenny Cooper up top, Joel Lindpere, Dax McCarty, Teemu Tainio, and Dane Richards in the midfield, and a starting back four of Roy Miller, Stephen Keel, Markus Holgersson, and Jan Gunnar Solli.
In goal, Ryan Meara is out for tonight but will return to training this week and compete for the opening day starting spot with tonight's goalkeeper Jeremy Vuolo.
After a mixed start to the preseason, the Red Bulls looked much better against the L.A. Galaxy on Wednesday, and will look to keep the momentum against a strong yet injury plagued Real Salt Lake. Tune-in live over at MLSsoccer.com at 8 PM EST.