Sacha Kljestan: “The physical part we’ve got to be up for it, if we can’t settle the game down and start passing the ball.” (Keith Furman/Front Row Soccer)
By Michael Lewis
Front Row Soccer Editor
A word to the wise to anyone who plans on attending the Red Bulls’ home opener against the Colorado Rapids at Red Bulls Arena Saturday:
Game-time temperatures are expected to be around 30 degrees with a wind-chill factor of 17 degrees.
Just how will that affect the game or players, it remains to be seen.
“The weather won’t be perfect,” Red Bulls head coach Jesse Marsch said after training in Hanover, N.J. Thursday. “It will be cold, windy. It makes for a tough game against a team that favors a little bit because they’re combative. They foul a lot. They’re physical, so we have to be ready for that kind of match.”
Believe it not, the Red Bulls players actually are welcoming the cold.
“It’s horrible,” striker Bradley Wright-Phillips said. “It is what it is. Once you get out there you don’t feel the cold.”
Captain Sacha Kljestan agreed.
“It might not be the perfect weather for a beautiful passing game, especially if it gets windy in there,” he said. “There might be a lot of 50-50 and challenges and things like that. The physical part we’ve got to be up for it, if we can’t settle the game down and start passing the ball. Obviously, on a cool night like that you feel that you can run forever. So hopefully we cover a lot of ground and make things happen.”
Kljestan remembered when the Red Bulls battled the Rapids in the snow in a 2-1 loss in Commerce City, Colo. April 16 last year. The field was a mess and so was the game.
“Physically, they were a little bit better than us on that day when not a lot of soccer was being played,” he said. “A lot of battles took place and we probably lost more duels than we won. If that’s the case again on Saturday, then we’ve got to be ready to put in the physical work.”