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.
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.
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.