The bye week hasn't helped the Banged-Up Bulls quite as much as had been hoped. Back on October 6, Big Apple Soccer's Kristian Dyer reported the New York Red Bulls were "nearly a full-strength group", describing a mostly ready-for-action roster with a couple of absentees allowed a day off to get properly rested for the end-of-season run-in.
Sure, there was a note that Daniel Royer was still recuperating from his hamstring injury, and Justin Bilyeu was recovering from concussion, but it was October 6 and RBNY was not due to play again for 10 days. And it had already been reported that Royer was in better condition than expected and might "potentially not miss another game"; Omer Damari was already fit enough to be included on a game-day roster and was described as "not quite 100 percent yet, but he's getting close"; Ronald Zubar considered a certainty to be available for the Red Bulls' October 16 date with Columbus Crew.
All was well with RBNY.
On October 11, with October 16 suddenly a little closer, the Red Bulls' story has changed slightly. About Damari, RBNY head coach Jesse Marsch told Kristian Dyer, "We're obviously trying to use this week to get him fit as well."
Innovative use of the word "obviously", Jesse.
Given that Damari was on the bench for RBNY's last game and described as "not quite 100 percent but he's getting close" about a week ago, it is not really obvious at all that he should now be the subject of articles headlined "Not Much Time" (per Empire of Soccer) on the subject of the effort to get him match-ready.
It is 10 days since Damari showed up in the 18 for the match against Philadelphia Union - often a sign a player is considered ready to contribute. Instead, BAS reports he is staying after training for extra fitness work, and both BAS and EoS offer less-than-encouraging words from Marsch:
He’s got to push hard now. He’s got to get fit. He’s got to be sharp every day.
Get well soon, Omer. There are two regular season games left to play, and no more than six playoff matches ahead (and RBNY will do its best to limit its maximum playoff commitment to five games, as it will hope to secure a first-round bye with a top-two finish in the Eastern Conference).
Damari, of course, is under the additional pressure of trying to play his way out of a more promising future than RB Leipzig's reserve team - to which it is assumed he will return when his current loan to RBNY is over, unless he can find the necessary form to engineer a change of club.
Daniel Royer doesn't carry the same burden: he is a longer-term signing, hampered by an ill-timed injury. What he has in common with Damari, however, is that he also doesn't seem to have progressed as hoped during the last week. On Tuesday, October 11, Kristian Dyer found Jesse Marsch talking up Mike Grella's return to the starting lineup:
Mike’s been incredibly sharp in training lately so I think we’re all excited that he’s back on track and ready to push hard and be ready for the postseason.
This was in the context of explaining Daniel Royer's likely absence:
We’re hoping to get him through some individual work this week and then potentially get him into training next week.
So much for last week's optimistic assessments of the squad's fitness. The long-anticipated "attacking help" the club was seeking for most of the summer is sidelined for the moment.