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Injury-riddled New York Red Bulls host Montreal Impact

What will the Red Bulls do when they face Didier Drogba and the Montreal Impact this Saturday?

Can Bradley Wright-Phillips tie and or Break Juan Pablo Angel's most league goals record
Can Bradley Wright-Phillips tie and or Break Juan Pablo Angel's most league goals record
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Right now, you may be thinking to yourself that this is a very bad time for the New York Red Bulls. They returned from last weekend's 2-2 draw at Los Angeles Galaxy with so many injuries - including one to an increasingly important player, Connor Lade, that has ended his season.

As in any professional sports league, however tough the break, it's always next man up to fill the spot and try to keep the team moving forward. The Red Bulls are running a little low on next men, unfortunately. Lade's injury narrows the available options at both full back positions;  Damien Perrinelle will be out for a while with his ankle injury, taking with him RBNY's hard-won center back depth; Bradley Wright-Phillips availability is uncertain. Add these latest knocks to those suffered by out-for-the-season Gideon Baah and gone-til-September Dax McCarty - and RBNY has some tough decisions to make for its upcoming games. There just aren't as many fit players in the first-team squad as there used to be.

"Bradley will be ready to go and we are confident that our backline help will be solid. We still have Chris Duvall as a center back option and Aaron Long will be traveling with us down to El Salvador against Alianza FC," said Jesse Marsch, "We will modify his work load with USL tomorrow and he'll be fresh for Tuesday and he could start that game"

So maybe not as bad as had been feared, thanks to the recently-added option of dipping into the USL squad for additional depth.

The Red Bulls most immediate task on their schedule is to take on the Montreal Impact, currently tied with RBNY for third place in the Eastern Conference. The biggest name in L'Impact's squad is Didier Drogba. But the Red Bulls should have their French Connection - center backs Aurelien Collin and Ronald Zubar - available to neutralize the threat of Montreal's star player.

"It's always special to face Didier Drogba, he's a very, very big player, a legend and as a defender it's always a challenge to face and appreciate to play against a big striker like him," said Aurelien Collin, "He's very strong and he jumps high and very technical and can shoot from anywhere. You need to focus, be wise and smart to face him. I can't wait to play against him."

Sean Davis had a solid start at the Los Angeles Galaxy on Sunday, stepping into the starting lineup in place of injured Captain Dax. He scored his first MLS goal in LA, after last season's first US Open Cup goal against the now-relegated-to-NPSL Atlanta Silverbacks. He felt strong after taking on one of the best sides in MLS and now he is taking on a major task against another dangerous side in the Montreal Impact.

"They have a lot of dangerous players and we all know that, and we need to keep an eye on guys that we need to defend against, because they can change the game at any moment," said Davis, "Nothing really changes, we need to stay tuned in on these types of games and be ready for them when they do and don't have the ball."

On the attacking side of the ball, the Red Bulls will need to find a way to break down Montreal's defense, led by Belgium international Laurent Ciman. He has shown why he is such a strong player, defending his goal with the Impact as well with his country in Euro 2016 this past Summer.

"For me the defender of the year is Ciman. Just how hard he works and how confident he is defending," said Marsch, "One of the keys with him is not allowing him to be comfortable. Don't let him pick us apart when we attack, don't let him try to dispossess the ball away from us. So he's a very good player and frankly he's a fun guy to watch, but it's part of our game plan to make it hard for him and don't let him go into a comfort zone."

So these two sides will meet up this weekend at Red Bull Arena. Another tough appointment for RBNY as the MLS regular season heads into its home stretch, further complicated by the subsequent need to travel to El Salvador to face Alianza FC in their second group stage match in the CONCACAF Champions League. The Red Bulls can't afford to look past L'Impact, but must also be mindful of the need to manage the dwindling numbers on the roster so the club can put its best foot forward in two competitions over the coming days.