Red Bull Notebook: Can Lightning Strike Twice at New England

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

By BRIAN TRUSDELL

Open Cup logoWHIPPANY, N.J. — If last Wednesday’s 3-2 win over the Revolution required overcoming a stretch that saw the Red Bulls beat their Major League Soccer original rival only once in New England in 26 previous attempts – dating to 2002, imagine doing it twice in eight days.

“This game sets up to be 10 times harder than the first game,” New York Coach Jesse Marsch said at Tuesday’s practice. “There will be a lot of emotion and energy and revenge on the mind of them. And we have to know that although we managed to emerge from that game, it could have easily gone either way.”

Besides the head-to-head history, Thursday’s match is a Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal, which the Red Bulls haven’t advanced past since the club lost the 2003 final to the Chicago Fire at the now-demolished Giants Stadium when the team was known as the MetroStars.

“We all want to make history here. We all want to win the Cup,” midfielder/captain Sacha Kljestan said. “It’s what we all signed up for. We know we have a great chance to do so by winning three more games.

“It’s not like we sit around the locker room and be like, ‘C’mon guys, we’ve never won it, let’s win it.’ But it’s known. It’s known that MLS Cup is the big goal we’ve never won. We know we haven’t won the Open Cup.

“I’m sure every guy has this goal in their mind. They want to be a champion. So, this is the quickest way to [the CONCACAF] Champions League; this is the quickest way to win a trophy, so you got to be urgent; got to be ready to go.”

The defense will again be missing outside backs Michael Murillo and Kemar Lawrence, still with Panama and Jamaica at the Gold Cup. And it could also be without Aurelien Collin, still rehabbing his hamstring hurt in the Open Cup match against Philadelphia, and Damien Perrinelle, who remained in the weight room during Tuesday’s training.

Marsch said he hopes both will be ready Thursday, but Tuesday’s practice saw the first team training with Aaron Long in the middle of a three-man back line with Connor Lade on the right and Sal Zizzo on the left.

Of little consolation will be that the game will be played at Jordan Field, Harvard University’s soccer stadium in the Soldiers Field complex. While 25 of the previous 26 games (before last Wednesday’s win) were played at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, one game – a 4-2 U.S. Open Cup Revolution win in 2013 – was also played at Jordan.

Kljestan disdainfully referred to the field’s artificial turf. Marsch, a Princeton grad, disdainfully and jokingly, referred to Harvard.

“We don’t know Harvard at all,” Marsch said about the team’s Wednesday morning departure for Thursday night’s game. “We’re going up a day early to kind of get used to the surroundings. I mean, I know Harvard. I don’t like Harvard.”

Comings and Goings

It’s that time of year again and with the European transfer window open, rumors, reports and just plain gossip of new arrivals is rife.

With Marsch having said on several occasions that the Red Bulls are looking for several additions, in defense, midfield and forward, one of the more prominent is the recycled report of Giuseppe Rossi’s return to his native New Jersey.

Rossi, 30, who was born and grew up in Northern New Jersey before he moved at age 12 to his parents’ native Italy and earned 30 caps with the Italian national team, has sustained several injuries, including a ruptured left knee tendon in April. He was on loan from Italian club Fiorentina to Celta Vigo in Spain when he was injured most recently.

His contract has expired, and he is without a club. This is the second summer of the same rumor, albeit with Rossi’s knee being ripped up three months ago.

On the goings end, several reports out of Minneapolis/St. Paul have Red Bulls II striker Brandon Allen heading to the MLS expansion side on loan for the remainder of the year.

Marsch refused to comment on the reports Tuesday.

Allen, 23, the younger brother of New York City FC’s R.J. Allen, led RBII in scoring last year (21 goals) to help it to the United Soccer League title and himself to the USL Rookie of the Year award. He leads the club with nine goals this year but has seen only seven minutes at the MLS level – and that was last season.

Speaking of RBII

The Red Bulls USL club lost its third in six games on Sunday with a 2-0 defeat at Bethlehem Steel, the Philadelphia Union’s USL club.

RBII has won only three of its last 10 – including four losses in five home games at Montclair State University – and scored only three goals in its last five matches overall.

The latest defeat dropped the defending champion to eighth place in the Eastern Conference, the last playoff spot, three points behind seventh-place Rochester, which has played two fewer games. RBII is 14 points off the pace of conference leader Charleston.