November 2, 2012
AN OPPORTUNITY TO FOCUS
Hurricane forces Red Bulls to leave area early, but allows them to concentrate on United
Hurricane Sandy forced the Red Bulls to play the opening game of their MLS Eastern Conference semifinal series on the road and to leave the area one day earlier than planned. But coach Hans Backe sees a silver lining on what has been a gray cloud of a week for the team and the tri-state area.
|Hans Backe said the team decided to leave a day earlier than planned mostly "because everyone is without power. We got the possibility of going one day earlier. I would say to be better prepared."
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
The Red Bulls, who departed for the nation's capital on Thursday, will be able to focus on D.C. United in the aggregate goals series. They normally would have left on Friday.
"I talked to a lot of the players," he said. "The whole focus has been around the storm, the hurricane. Still, we have been able to train Wednesday at Montclair. It's probably an advantage."
Backe said the team decided to leave mostly "because everyone is without power. We got the possibility of going one day earlier. I would say to be better prepared."
As of late Friday morning, Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J. still had no power. The Red Bulls were supposed to host D.C. in the opening game of the aggregate goal, MLS Eastern Conference semifinal series, but the games were flipped. New York is scheduled to host United on Wednesday. Power most be restored by Monday or Major League Soccer will be forced to move the game to another venue.
Backe said he had spoken with Red Bulls general manager Jerome de Bontin the last two days, but had no update on the stadium situation.
"Hopefully, the power will be back around Monday and then it should not be no problem to play in Harrison on Wednesday," he said. "We just have to take it day by day."
Backe, who returned to his native Sweden to take care of some personal business last Sunday, missed the brunt of the storm. But he was taken aback to the damage that he witnessed after he returned.
Backe said he tried to stay in contact with his brother, who stayed at his apartment in Hoboken, N.J.
The 60-year-old Backe, who has seen a lot in a playing and coaching career that has spanned more than four decades, admitted he had never seen the destruction wrought by Hurricane Sandy.
"No, never," he told reporters during a Friday conference call. "I was away the two worst days. But my brother was in my apartment. I tried to stay in touch with him, but it was an absolutely heart-breaking storm. I have seen Hoboken. It is totally closed down and still no power."
As it turned out, Backe did not miss much. The Red Bulls did not train on Monday as a regularly scheduled off day and could not practice on Tuesday in the aftermath of the horrific storm.
Asked about his personal situation, Backe replied, "It's quite OK. I came back [Thursday]. I flew out with the team, so I just missed Wednesday's session but everything seems to be OK."