By ANTHONY J. MERCED
Red Bulls’ forward Gonzalo Verón has returned to training for the first time since his injury in the CONCACAF Champions League. Last week news emerged that he had returned to Argentina to receive treatment for his injured leg, though there were scant details. He is back with the team.
“Gonzalo will be back today,” Coach Jesse Marsch said after training on Tuesday. “Word is that he can start training, finally. Now at what level, we will see exactly but he will be back today.”
On Thursday, Verón worked with trainers on a field next to the players on the main practice field at the club’s training center in Hanover, N.J.
Verón, 27, has been an enigma with New York, spending more time on the injured list than on the field. Despite the stop-and-start nature of his time in Major League Soccer it appears that Marsch and his staff are not quite ready to give up on him just yet.
The comeback of right back Connor Lade, 27, has stalled because of a rib injury that kept him out of last week’s game and could cause him to miss the game between the Red Bulls (2-3-1, 7 points) and D.C. United (2-2-1, 7 points) on Saturday night.
“Connor is day to day,” Marsch said. “This injury has been more painful than any of us expected. Even though there’s not any real injury other than the connection of the rib to the spine, but it’s just one that’s incredibly sensitive. So we’re hopeful that tomorrow can be a training day for him but we’ll see.”
Lade’s injury is bad news for the back line that has struggled in 2017. Currently the team is tied for the most goals surrendered (9) in the Eastern Conference and tied for second-worst goal differential (minus-4) in the league. Lade’s injury not only hampers the team defensively, but also removes a potent part of the offensive connection from the back line.
D.C. United comes into Red Bull Arena on Saturday night for a game that could reignite the Atlantic Cup rivalry. The series is as old as MLS and this year finds each team in need of a result. D.C. also has some familiar faces in the line up, including the former Red Bull winger Lloyd Sam.
Sam was traded to D.C. in the middle of the 2016 season, a move that shocked many, including the player. Since joining D.C. he has proven to be an indispensable part of Coach Ben Olsen‘s team. He scored a goal and had an assist last week against NYCFC.
Despite adding MLS talent such as Dan Metzger and Brandon Allen, New York Red Bull II (1-2-1) dropped two games last week, to Harrisburg and St. Louis. The losses mirrored the same issues the first team has with statistics heavily favoring the Baby Bulls in nearly every category except the one that matters — the score line. The City Islanders shut them out in a game at Red Bull Arena on Wednesday and defensive lapses cost them late against St. Louis on Saturday.
The team will be home at MSU Soccer Park on Friday night to play Orlando City B. It is expected that Allen will be with the team a bit longer because Fredrik Gulbrandsen and Gonzalo Verón have returned to training. Whether goalkeeper Ryan Meara will get another game remains to be seen as well. New York is in sixth place in the USL’s Eastern Conference.