Wilman Conde returned to practice for the Red Bulls on Tuesday, and manager Hans Backe says the former MLS standout should be available for selection this weekend against Colorado.
That’s good news for Backe and the Bulls, I suppose. Conde has been a locker room problem before (when he was in Chicago, but wanted to chase coach Juan Carlos Osorio to New York). So what happens if Backe sticks with his central pairing of Stephen Keel and newcomer Markus Holgersson for the time being?
But I doubt that will happen. If he’s the same Conde who was an All-Star in 2009 and 2010, with a great blend of passing, power and passion along the back line, it’s an easy call.
Who comes out of the starting XI might be interesting. Holgersson is the more experienced player, so Backe will probably move Keel to the bench. You can make a case that it’s the better long-term investment. On the other hand …
Holgersson still seems to be his MLS adjustment period. In all honesty, Keel has looked better, with reliable positioning and generally spotless work along the back line. Given that the Red Bulls need wins like I need coffee every morning (desperately, with ruthless disregard for anyone in the way), Backe might consider pairing Keel with Conde for the time being.