In what is now firmly a tradition, the New York Red Bulls made a late announcement regarding an injury or absence in the squad. About 10 minutes before revealing the match-day squad for the team's game against Chicago Fire on April 29, RBNY announced that center-back Aurelien Collin has an abdominal strain and is "listed as week-to-week".
The injury pushed Damien Perrinelle back into the starting lineup, and promotes 18-year-old defender Hassan Ndam to the bench.
STARTING XI#NYvCHI | #RBNY pic.twitter.com/FO3D2oCnD3— New York Red Bulls (@NewYorkRedBulls) April 29, 2017
Collin's injury will test the Red Bulls' squad depth. The team has acknowledged it is a little light at center back since it was forced to place Gideon Baah on the season-ending injury list. The Red Bulls have stated they are looking at options to bolster depth at center-back, but updates on the status of that search remain (understandably) vague, and the rumor mill has yet to uncover any likely candidates.
Jesse Marsch said the hunt for a centerback continues, options include this transfer window but open to this summer's window as well. #RBNY— Kristian Dyer (@KristianRDyer) April 27, 2017
Until Collin returns to fitness, the Red Bulls' back-up center-back is a teenager who was playing (elite level) high-school soccer last season. Hassan Ndam is off to a very encouraging start to his career as a pro, showing well for NYRB II, for whom he has proved a very capable player. But he has played only five games as a professional to date.
The most immediate issue for the Red Bulls is to get through a busy stretch if their schedule: starting April 29, they will play three games in eight days - including back-to-back road games (against Sporting Kansas City and Philadelphia Union). With Collin described as "week-to-week" rather than day-to-day, it suggests he might not be available for those matches.
RBNY knows it is a little thin at center-back, knows that misfortune might expose the lack of depth at the position. But, for now, it still has two fit and experienced starters, another on the mend, and an 18-year-old in reserve. Collin's injury does not precipitate a crisis: it seems unlikely Kemar Lawrence will be asked to play CB, as he was at one point last season. But it does highlight the reason RBNY is looking for a center-back in the first place: it's a potential area of concern in the squad.