The New York Red Bulls will be stretched thin on October 3. Weather permitting, the first team will kick off against Columbus Crew at 7:00 pm at Red Bull Arena. The reserve team is scheduled to play its USL playoffs Eastern Conference semifinal against Rochester Rhinos - the stand-out team in USL - at 7:05 pm in Rochester.
Last weekend, the Red Bulls also had important MLS and USL games to manage. The club allowed seven players from its MLS roster to help out NYRB II's playoff campaign, including Sean Davis, who was in the 18 for RBNY's game against Orlando. That was possible because both matches were played in Harrison, a day apart.
The club's playing resources will be challenged a little more for Saturday's pair of games. News from RBNY training on Thursday - as reported by mlssoccer.com's Eric Giacometti - is that Anatole Abang will not be fit to play on Saturday.
That means RBNY now has four players absent from its MLS squad: Abang, Chris Duvall, and Roy Miller are injured; Matt Miazga is on international duty with the USA U-23 team for CONCACAF Olympic qualifying.
There are 27 players on RBNY's MLS roster. Take away four, and you have 23 available from which to choose 18 to play Columbus.
There won't be seven first-team squad players helping out NYRB II in Rochester. We already know the hero of the USL team's first-ever playoff win, Karl Ouimette, will be staying in Harrison to be available for the Columbus game. Sean Davis could safely be assumed to be staying with the first team. Now one other player will be needed to take Abang's place on the bench (Manolo Sanchez would seem a reasonable guess).
A few more players may be held close to Harrison as cover for the possibility of a late, freakish injury to the 18 penciled in for the Columbus game. Could be a very different NYRB II lineup in Rochester from that which beat Pittsburgh last week.
Abang's injury also exposes the strong likelihood that RBNY has sought to negotiate retaining its players for the upcoming October 5-13 FIFA window for international play. Kemar Lawrence and Karl Ouimette have been pretty much automatic selections to Jamaica and Canada nation team squads this year.
But if they are selected for October friendlies (Jamaica and Canada both have matches scheduled for October 13), and Abang's injury does not clear up quickly, RBNY could be reduced to 18 available outfield players for up to two crucial MLS games (the home game against Montreal on October 7 and the trip to Toronto on October 14). Or even 17, if Bradley Wright-Phillips is also called to Jamaica's roster.
A full MLS match-day squad requires 16 outfield players. With CONCACAF World Cup qualifying starting in November, the October friendlies are perhaps the only chance RBNY will have to ask national teams to let players briefly prioritize club over country - and perhaps the occasion this season when the Red Bulls are most in need of all available hands on deck.
Three injured players, and Miazga out for international duty followed by a suspension from MLS - and Felipe Martins is one yellow card away from having to serve a one-game suspension. RBNY can't really spare many more players at the moment.
Those hoping Jurgen Klinsmann might finally reward the work of Luis Robles and Dax McCarty with a call-up for USMNT's October 13 friendly against Costa Rica (at Red Bull Arena) - hope for something else. International duty is a privilege for any player, but under current circumstances, it could do serious damage to RBNY's hope for a successful conclusion to the MLS regular season.