September 28, 2012
DON'T CALL HIM RUSTY
Barklage says he should be fine in 1st start in 2 months
By Michael Lewis
|Brandon Barklage: "It might take a couple of minutes at the beginning of the game to get into the flow and rhythm of the game, but I feel good."
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J. -- He hasn't started a game in more than two months and played but 11 minutes since then, but right back Brandon Barklage says he won't be rusty when the Red Bulls take on Toronto FC on Saturday night.
"I've been playing this game for a while, so I think I will be OK," he said after practice at Montclair State University on Thursday. "It might take a couple of minutes at the beginning of the game to get into the flow and rhythm of the game, but I feel good.
"I'm just excited overall. I'm excited to get back on the field obviously with the guys. We're just ansty to go out there and get a result."
Barklage, who acquitted himself well after taking over for an injured Jan Gunnar Solli earlier this season, will replace rookie Connor Lade, who will serve a red-card suspension after accruing two yellow cards in the 1-1 tie at New England last Saturday.
Barklage replaced midfielder Teemu Tainio in the 79th minute, five minutes after Lade was dismissed.
A right hamstring strain forced Barklage from the 2-0 win over the Philadelphia Union on July 21. He had not gotten off the bench for five games since being available for action for the 3-2 win over Portland on Aug. 19. appearance
Red Bulls coach Hans Backe said he had confidence in Barklage playing well over a full 90 minutes, despite his long absence.
"Yeah, absolutely," he said. "He's definitely been training for at almost a month. Physically, it's not a problem. He played most of the season as a right fullback, so there's nothing new for him."
Central defender Heath Pearce agreed and felt Barklage should have no problem re-integrating himself with the back four.
"He's a great player," he said. "Obviously he's got a good attacking mentality and you can tell he likes to win by his work rate and attitude. He's a good addition for us this weekend. Hopefully we can get a result."
So does Barklage.
"We have four very important games coming up," he said. "We know we haven't clinched a spot in the playoffs just yet. So, I think that gets started this weekend against Toronto."
The key to the win is a solid performance by the Red Bulls defense. Barklage said the team must "stay in tight, especially against a team like Toronto. We know they're going to play very direct. A lot of communication and stay in tight in the back. that starts with Luis [Robles, goalkeeper] and going forward."