The New York Red Bulls and the injury list have been joined at the hip all season in 2016. Obviously, that hip is bruised and may miss 2-3 weeks.
Sunday night’s encounter in Los Angeles left more players finding time on the sidelines, as defenders Connor Lade and Damien Perrinelle will be missing extended time. Lade’s injury was the most severe, as ACL surgery will end his 2016 season. Perrinelle, who worked towards recovery of the same ACL issue from last season, is set to miss up to 4-6 weeks with an ankle injury.
Manager Jesse Marsch will need to rotate his squad effectively and may have to call upon reinforcements from the Red Bull reserve team in USL occasionally.
Bradley Wright-Phillips Injured: Who Can Fill His Role For The New York Red Bulls If He Misses Time?
Where injuries have not been seen too often is at the forward position with Bradley Wright-Phillips. The English striker is now the all-time leading goal scorer in franchise history. He is having another quality season (14 goals across all competitions). Now suffering from what Marsch has described as a “significant bone bruise” keeping him on a day-to-day status; who will be able to step up and contribute if BWP misses matches down the stretch?
We highlight options for Marsch and the Red Bulls at the forward position.
Cameroonian international Anatole Abang has all of the tools that the Red Bulls are looking for to fill the striker role in their 4-2-3-1 formation. The 20-year old forward’s size, strength and desire in the opponent’s half of the field is more than MLS defenses can handle at times and he has performed well with New York Red Bulls II (USL) over the past two years.
After finding six goals across all competitions in limited minutes last season, Abang has seen those minutes decline even further with the senior team in 2016. Rumors of a possible European transfer (Le Havre in France’s Ligue 2 has been mentioned) seem a possible cause for the lack of minutes. However, with Wright-Phillips missing time this could be Abang’s chance to shine.
New arrival Omer Damari seems the most likely candidate to fulfill Wright-Phillips role should he miss time. The 27-year old Israeli forward has a proven goal scoring record during his time in Europe. He is comfortable with New York’s high-press system. He played with both RB Leipzig and Red Bull Salzburg in the big Austrian-owned energy drink family.
The main issue for Damari seems to be timing. Head coach Jesse Marsch has stated that the striker is still finding his fitness. Fellow new signing Daniel Royer may be further along in that regard. With only a short loan deal in place for him to make an impact; Damari is in a race against the clock.
Homegrown forward Brandon Allen may be ready for a chance to prove what he is capable of with the senior New York Red Bull squad if Wright-Phillips is out. The 22-year old New Jersey native has 9 goals in 20 appearances in the USL. He could make an impact at the top of the formation.
His tenacity in front of goal and impressive strength could help to find goals late in matches. A classic poacher, Allen could be the scrappy striker New York needs while resting key players.