Wilman Conde’s fitness is still a concern according to Red Bulls Head Coach, Hans Backe.
The bruising Colombian defender is recovering from an injury he sustained during practice with his former club Atlas last April. The prognosis was so severe, he needed surgery to his left instep that forced him to miss the rest of the Mexican Clausura and subsequent Apertura seasonal tournaments.
In fact, his health concerns were a principal issue in the parting of ways between the club and player. Atlas, desperate to perform to standard in the coming Clausura season, initiated a chat between their Head Coach Juan Carlos Chavez and Conde to clear the air last December. The result wasn’t an encouraging one.
“I understand the situation in Atlas,” Conde told the gathered press after a training session with Atlas in early December. “They need players ready to work now, who are 100%. I need to be in better physical shape, so I will have to step aside and see what my future will be.”
“Both Juan Carlos Chavez and I agreed that I would give him a report of how I felt after the first week of training here in Manzanillo,” Conde revealed, “to let him know how I see the situation and that came out; after seven months of rehabilitation, it costs to come back.”
After training with the first team squad, it became apparent to the Colombian defender he was not ready. “I wasn’t at that level,” he said. By his calculation, with a lighter preseason schedule, he would need at least another month of conditioning to be ready for the grind of a new season, placing his return at perhaps the final week of January; four games into the season.
That was a chance Atlas was not willing to take.
Meanwhile, the Red Bulls saw an opportunity in the defenders plight. A six figure allocation secured his rights from Chicago, and the plunge was made. With the season set to begin in March, Conde would conceivably have more time than enough time to heal for the start of the MLS season on March 11th.
Asked whether or not that timetable was an accurate one, Backe hedged at the notion. “He could be,” the Coach revealed. “I think we need to work fitness wise with Conde the next two weeks. I think it’s realistic to think he could play in Arizona, because we have five games. He’s working with our fitness coaches; it’s definitely realistic he could be ready for the opener.”
Realistic, but not quite certain.
NEWS AND NOTES
- Thierry Henry will indeed be back with the Red Bulls on February 17th, telling his coach the chances of his arrival on that date were “100%.” Arsene Wenger substantiated the reports, saying “I would have loved him to stay for two more weeks but he has to go back. He is captain of the Red Bulls, so just to appear on the first day of the season would be unfair to them.”
- Luke Rodgers continues to have visa issues. After a denial in his application, the Red Bulls have filed an appeal on his behalf and expect an answer late next week.
- Victor Palsson has signed with the club, according to Backe.
- The Coach also seemed quite pleased with the players he has on trial. He gushed outwardly on the skill of Jose Angulo, the former St. Benedict star, claiming he has a “phenomenal touch” and command of the ball. Former FC New York striker Jhonny Arteaga drew praise as well, being described as a direct forward who is always in the right place. Brandon Barklage drew comparisons to Dane Richards, while Ryan Madurowas praised as a playmaking midfielder who can go box to box.
- For a complete look at yesterday’s press conference, check out my piece on SBI – Red Bulls Notebook.