Ronald Zubar had a good game against Seattle Sounders, including one particular moment in which he challenged the hypothesis that the New York Red Bulls' senior center backs are too slow to handle the inevitable counter-attacking they must defend thanks to RBNY's devotion to playing an aggressive, high-pressing game:
Unfortunately, Zubar had to leave the game a little early due to injury. Fortunately, Kristian Dyer reports for Big Apple Soccer that the club doesn't think the defender's latest knock will have great impact on its overall plans. As Jesse Marsch told BAS:
We think he’ll be OK. The whole week we were thinking that it was probably a two-game week for him, figure out which games the ones to play him in.
Looks like they know which game he won't be playing this week. Zubar's knock has made one squad rotation decision a little easier.
In his comments after RBNY's 2-0 win over Seattle Sounders, Marsch confirmed a few points about his defense that we have been seeing but perhaps not entirely believing. Before the recent two-week break, Chris Duvall appeared to have gone from stand-in center back, pressed into service due to an injury crisis, to potentially a regular starter in the middle of the defense, subject to his coach's analysis of the opposition. Marsch said Duvall's latest start was made from a position of confidence rather than desperation:
Listen, that wasn't an easy thing to do to not put Aurelien in the lineup tonight, but we thought that Chris [Duvall] matched up really well against Jordan Morris and his speed. Chris has done a really good job for us, so we've gotten to the point to where we rely on him not just at right back but at center back.
And the head coach acknowledged his increasing fondness for shifting to a five-man back line to defend a lead (a pattern established last season, but slow to emerge this year because the Red Bulls didn't often have a lead to defend for a long stretch of games), while explaining his decision to take Sacha Kljestan off early against Seattle:
Once again, we were thinking about going to a five-man back when it was 1-0 and once it goes 2-0, now you're thinking, all right, who do you take often field when you go to five, and then hopefully conserve that person a little bit for potentially Wednesday and then Saturday.
With Zubar assumed to be out for the trip to Utah to play Real Salt Lake on Wednesday, June 22, Marsch will still have Collin, Duvall and Gideon Baah to choose from the players he trusted to start the last couple of games at CB. And Canada international Karl Ouimette could yet make a return to the rotation.
The Red Bulls may once again be starting a week with fresh injuries to key defenders to consider, but this time, it all seems to be going to plan.