‘Makeshift Lineup’ Leaves Red Bulls at a Loss

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By ANTHONY J. MERCED

imagesCoach Jesse Marsch and the New York Red Bulls suffered on Wednesday night because they were looking past Sporting Kansas City and ahead to the Philadelphia Union.

Starting a line up filled with reserves such as Fredrik Gulbrandsen, Michael Murillo and Gonzalo Verón while resting Sacha Kljestan and Bradley Wright-Phillips, the Red Bulls (5-4-1, 16 points) spent the night chasing the game, losing to SKC (5-1-3, 18), 2-0.

“Obviously we had to play a makeshift line up to get through this week the right way,” Marsch said, referring to a string of three games over eight days. “We know that is always a challenge because Philly, as much as they’ve had a tough year, they always play well against us. They’re always prepared and they’re desperate, so it’s not going to be easy. We’ll have to figure out which guys from here can regenerate and we’ll have some fresher legs ready to go for that one.”

The idea of freshening up a nearly first-place team to play Philadelphia (0-4-4, 4), a last-place team, can be seen as confusing. The Red Bulls’ bench players were unable to provide the same level of play Marsch expects. Verón had a minimal impact on the game against SKC, he did not register a shot on goal in 57 minutes on the field. Gulbrandsen who, despite getting a good look at goal, did not provide a spark up top. Sporting, the first-place team in the Western Conference, started its first team, had more than 55 percent of possession and outshot New York by 18-6.

Marsch did his best to put a positive spin on the match.

“I could focus on the negative but I’m going to focus on the positive,” he said. “The positive for me is that Amir Murillo played in the game and played quite well, which shows that he can handle a game like that. A big step forward for him. Fredrik Gulbrandsen, until he had to come out, I thought put a lot into the game, won a lot of little duels and I thought was a little bit unlucky not to get us the lead at 1-0. So his performance too continues to show that’s someone we can count on.”

After resting a slew of starters in the middle game of a three-game sprint, Marsch is expected to go back to his first-choice lineup with Mike Grella, Kljestan, Wright-Phillips, Damien Perrinelle, Daniel Royer and Kemar Lawrence on Saturday.

“We can’t mope about the last game,” Marsch said. “This game, we’re obviously disappointed but we’ve got to figure out a way to regenerate and refocus and go after a big game in Philly.”