Red Bulls’ Sam slated for return; Olave sits out, Oyongo questionable

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

Both Lloyd Sam and Ambroise Oyongo have combined to create one of the most explosive wing midfield tandems in MLS.  Both have also fallen to injuries just as the New York Red Bulls have begun their run towards the playoffs.

With a critical, nationally televised match against the Houston Dynamo at Red Bull Arena this Saturday, both men would be vital elements towards the club’s attempts at securing three points.   However, only one seems ready to answer the call.

After pulling up lame with a minor hamstring strain minutes into the Red Bulls’ match against CD FAS in El Salvador, Sam appears ready to return to the Red Bull lineup, while Oyongo continues to recuperate from his own hamstring pull.

“Lloyd is looking good, and is expected, knock on some wood, to be back for this weekend,” Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke said in his weekly conference call. “His was a minor thing that we didn’t feel too comfortable taking a chance with.”

“Oyongo’s situation is a bit worse,” he continued. “He’s got what looks to be a decent hamstring injury.

“He’s young and he could have a heck of a recovery in the next couple days, but I’m planning on not having him again.”

With an injured Sam and hobbled Oyongo, the Red Bulls offense sputtered in two consecutive matches, closing out an otherwise successful September (the club went 3-1-1 in regular season play) on a deflating draw and loss.  New York could not manage a goal against an overmatched CD FAS and fell tamely to the Los Angeles Galaxy days later in a blowout.

Oyongo’s absence will stretch an already thin left-sided midfield.  With Bobby Convey still recovering from surgery on his deviated septum, New York may likely deploy the 4-2-3-1 formation once more, with Thierry Henry manning the distribution channels from the left or returning Eric Alexander to the position.  Sam’s potential absence would be a bigger concern, likely forcing New York to pair Dax McCarty and Tim Cahill at the defensive midfield and deploying Alexander at the right.

Those aren’t the only player concerns for the club.  Accumulation of yellow cards topped off by his infraction in Los Angeles will force Colombian defender Jamison Olave to once again take a seat this weekend.  That will create a competition between Ibrahim Sekagya, Matt Miazga, Armando and Damien Perrinelle for the remaining starting spots.

“We obviously have more than enough to be able to pick from,” Petke observed. “It’s about the next couple of days somebody stepping up and claiming that spot as theirs.  I have a decent idea of who I’d like to use, but anything can happen in the next three days.”

Both the Red Bulls (10-9-11, 41 points) and Houston (10-13-6, 36 points) are in the thick of the playoff hunt, with New York holding a one point lead on the final Wild Card slot.

  • Andrew Bissonette

    I hope we see Miazga and Armando on the backline. I know its unlikely that Sekagya won’t start, but I’m just sick and tired of him. Armando has played well in CCL and whenever he’s been on the field since he lost his starting job and Miazga just got benched out of almost nowhere. Give the kid a game and let him taste what its like to play fall soccer in MLS(the most important and intense time of year).