The New York Red Bulls left the field Sunday evening with more than just bruised egos.
Team talisman Tim Cahill exited the game with an unidentified hamstring injury less than a third of the way into the match, highlighting a group of ailing players that includes Richard Eckersley – and possibly, Kosuke Kimura.
“I’d probably get in trouble if I made any statements right now without consulting the doctors, but it looks like best-case scenario a strain in the hamstring and worst case a pull in the hamstring,” head coach Mike Petke said of Cahill’s condition. “But I’m going to go in and meet with the doctors now and figure that out.”
Petke also explained Eckersley’s first half substitution. While his play left much to be desired, the English fullback was subbed because his ankle was “swollen like a baseball.”
Kimura was given a valuable chance to earn minutes in Eckersley’s absence, but even he fell lame late in the match. The Japanese defender limped out of the trainer’s room and slumped back in his locker, revealing a heavily iced ankle and a face filled with remorse.
“I crossed the ball, and last second, [the defender] kicked me,” Kimura told EOS. “I couldn’t follow through on the ball, but it’s not too bad. I felt a little shift, but in a couple of days, it should be fine. Still swollen now. I didn’t twist it all the way. Just a little shift.”
The timing couldn’t be worse for the Red Bulls. While they’ve achieved relative health through the first month of the season, they could conceivably be out up to five players heading into Montreal this Saturday. The match will be played at Le Stade Olympique — known for its unforgiving turf surface. If history is any indicator, the brutal pitch will likely mean neither Thierry Henry nor Jamison Olave will make the trip. In a worst case scenario, that may also mean that MLS SuperDraft pick Chris Duvall will find himself up for selection.
While the grind of the season means players will routinely carry injuries on a game-to-game basis, it is difficult to gauge whether this truly is the worst of the Red Bulls’ health woes.
“We had a couple of injuries in the game,” Lloyd Sam said after the match. “I don’t know if people were carrying injuries into the game. It looked like a few people weren’t playing to their normal ability. The second half, after we made the changes, everyone was fresh. Maybe that was the reason.”