Reporting for MSG, Kristian Dyer advises Gonzalo Veron is likely to spend a third week on the sidelines, but the New York Red Bulls are encouraged by the player's progress in his recovery from a hamstring injury that forced him out of the second leg of the team's CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal against Vancouver Whitecaps.
Veron limped out of the game in Vancouver in the 8th minute on February 28 and has not played for RBNY since, sitting out two MLS regular season matches to date. But RBNY head coach Jesse Marsch offered MSG's Dyer an optimistic assessment of Veron's condition and progression toward full fitness:
Today was his best day...he did some jogging on the treadmill and we're hopeful that now we can progress pretty quickly. Not sure he'll be available for the weekend, especially with it being turf.
Call it a big surprise if Veron shows up in RBNY's match-day squad against Seattle, but at least his recovery is visibly progressing.
In the meantime, Marsch looks set to push Fredrik Gulbrandsen toward the starting lineup. The newly-signed Norwegian got his first minutes for RBNY within 24 hours of arriving in America. He is on loan from RB Salzburg, meaning he is both familiar with the broad tactical approach used by the entire Red Bull Global Soccer family, and he is more or less in mid-season, fitness-wise.
Marsch told Dyer that Gulbrandsen is a candidate for the starting lineup for March 19, when RBNY plays Seattle Sounders in Week 3 of the 2017 MLS regular season. But Dyer also reports the Red Bulls don't regard the forward as yet being ready to play a full 90 minutes.
Gulbrandsen had fallen out of favor at Salzburg and moved to RBNY after increasingly struggling to get playing time in Austria. Marsch told Dyer his new signing had been "training with Salzburg for a month", which was a peculiar assertion to feel it necessary to make about a player who has been under contract with Salzburg since last summer. But Gulbrandsen did have injury trouble toward the end of 2016:
Prior to his arrival at RBNY, Norwegian outlet Verdens Gang interviewed Gulbrandsen and noted he was staying with his mother in Raelingen while addressing the immigration issues that delayed his arrival in America. Raelingen is about 1,000 miles away from Salzburg, so maybe Gulbrandsen still has a little rust to shake off after recovering from his hamstring issue and then having to deal with an unexpectedly protracted process of moving to the USA.
It is, however, encouraging that the Norwegian seems likely to contribute to RBNY almost immediately, and that he is regarded as filling the second-striker role that had been regarded as Veron's to lose. Gonzalo Veron will sit out another week for the Red Bulls, but they have signed a player in Gulbrandsen who can fill in up front, and may yet claim a starting role for himself whether Veron is fit or not.