Gerhard Struber: “The glass is half full and not half empty.” (Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports)
By Michael Lewis
The Red Bulls, who are closer to the MLS Eastern Division cellar than they are to a playoff spot, will try to climb out of their season-long doldrums at the Chicago Fire on Saturday night.
It appears to be an uphill battle for the 13th-place team (1-3-5, eight points), because they will be missing several key attacking players again.
That includes injuries to Lewis Morgan (hip) and Luqunihas (adductor) and that suspension to Dante Vanzeir.
But wait, there is more. Steven Sserwadda (knee) is out for four months. Joining him on the injured list is Serge Ngoma Matt Nocita (hamstrings) and Frankie Amaya (ankle).
Defender Kyle Duncan will miss the match due to yellow card accumulation.
“I think definitely losing someone like Lewis especially very early on in the season and Luquinhas it’s definitely pretty obvious it does affect us a little bit,” defender Cameron Harper said. “They are two guys who are unbelievable…. We can’t kind of dwell on that. We can only control the things that we can control. So, there’s no point in dwelling on it. Just the guys who are playing their positions need to step up and everyone needs to kind of start doing the role a little bit better.”
The Red Bulls are winless on the road in five games (0-3-2), which has added to their abysmal start.
“It’s a must-win game,” head coach Gerard Struber said.
Indeed, and then some.
If the Red Bulls lose and Inter Miami CF (2-6-0, 6) and CF Montreal (2-6-0, 6) win, New York will fall into last and 15th place in the conference. Miami plays at Columbus and Montreal visits Kansas City.
The Red Bulls lead those two MLS squads by two points and are three points below the ninth-place playoff line.
Becoming a cellar dweller is something the Red Bulls would like to avoid at all costs.
“It’s pretty obvious none of us are happy with this,” Harper said. “The place that we’ve put ourselves … there’s no one else to blame but ourselves. The performance hasn’t been good enough.
“We, as pros understand that it’s, it’s our job to perform every weekend and, it’s not been good enough. I wouldn’t say uncomfortable. It’s more we’re not happy with ourselves. We know we can do more. We’ve seen a very similar group from last year that’s here. We see what we were able to do last year and even in preseason. It’s not clicking for us right now. It just needs to change immediately. There’s no other excuse. It just needs to change. We need to do our best so we can change it. ”
Of course, with this team, that’s easier said than done, given what the Red Bulls have accomplished this season.
On the flip side is that 10th-place Chicago (2-2-4, 10) hasn’t exactly set the league on, ahem, fire this season. The has won but once at Soldiers Field (1-0-4).
Struber was optimistic his squad can turn things around.
“I have again a good feeling I trust my boys and I think the time will come that we bounce back,” he said, adding that the Red Bulls have been close to winning in recent weeks.
“The glass is half full and not half empty. This is my optimistic feeling. I can see my boys on a good level, and I think in the same in the end we will deserve more.”