The NY Red Bulls have already announced changes to their defensive lineup for their home opener on Sunday afternoon against the D.C. United as my colleague reported earlier with Roy Miller out due to injury being replaced by Kemar Lawrence. However, what if Ronald Zubar cannot start on Sunday due to the hamstring injury he sustained in the season opener in Kansas CIty? What if he can start but he cannot play that many minutes? Where will the club turn in that scenario?
In the match against Sporting Kansas City the coaching staff turned to Matt Miazga to substitute in for Zubar as a precaution to get Zubar out of the game to evaluate his condition. The internet and social media reaction to Miazga's limited playing time was, in diplomatic terms, not favorable. The most common description I read was that he looked "lost" out on the field. It also seems harsh because he is, after all, just 19 years old so that has to figure into our expectations as well. I think it is fair to speculate that Coach Marsch will not go that route again.
They could turn to Andrew Jean-Baptiste to make his debut with the club. The 22 year old at least started some games for his former club, Chivas USA, and can play a central defensive role. He also has experience with the Portland Timbers and with his size he could be a good match up to mark the forwards for D.C. who play very physically at times. I also think he could play some valuable minutes off the bench in the event that Zubar can start the match, and that could be good preparation for his role with the club during the 2015 season.
The other direction the Red Bulls could go is with Karl Ouimette who joined the club in training camp in Florida after a stint of three seasons with the Montreal Impact. He is a little smaller than some of their other defenders but he does have the skill set and the experience to fill this potential void if the Red Bulls need him to step in and play some heavy minutes on Sunday.
In a perfect world, especially with Miller out of the lineup, the hope is that Zubar can start and play well against the United on Sunday (5 PM ESPN 2) but the reality is that if he pushes himself and injures his hamstring worse, that is a very negative longer term scenario for the club. This match will be filled with intensity which is why I hope that the coaching staff chooses his potential replacement very carefully. I guess time will tell.