Red Bulls pair still in limbo, but the team looks OK

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One injured New York Red Bulls starter is mending and could get back on the field this week.

One wildly inconvenienced Red Bulls starter remains incapacitated by red tape, stuck Tom Hanks style (Hanks in The Terminal, that is) and unable to make his escape.

Teemu Tainio is recovering from a deep ankle bruise and Luke Rodgers just can’t sort out those curiously problematic visa issues.

Funny thing is, I’m not convinced the Red Bulls need either player. Not right now, at least. That may sound strange, considering they are both quality contributors and that the Red Bulls were a recent feature of our ProSoccerTalk Panic Quotient. But these things do change quickly, and the Red Bulls will be OK in the short-term without them.

Tainio is a solid, holding midfielder who knows his role and plays within his capabilities; there’s so much value to all that.  Rodgers is a gold-standard scrapper, a rare barroom brawler who can dish it out, take it, but also deliver enough craft to be a proficient scorer. (He hit for 9 goals in 23 matches last year, and the Red Bulls were a better team when he was out there to boost energy and the antagonism level.)

The Red Bulls will benefit in the long term with both on the roster. However …

Rafa Marquez worked as a holding midfielder (in Tainio’s spot) last week because Dax McCarty buzzed so diligently around the midfield, doing the running the aging Mexican international can’t or won’t. (Slightly off topic: Didn’t Clarence Seedorf, almost three years older than Marquez, show the world Wednesday that advancing age doesn’t have to mean additional pounds or a case of the debilitating slows? Seedorf spent the afternoon chasing the kids, so to speak, helping AC Milan’s midfield deal with Barcelona’s fabulous assortment for fleet feet.)

So the Marquez-McCarty combo works. They’ll need Tainio in the mix eventually, but no reason for him to hurry back.

At forward, Kenny Cooper’s re-emergence as a goal scorer and his ability to combine with Thierry Henry is mitigating Rodgers’ absence, which would be more damaging otherwise. Given Juan Agudelo’s recent injury, a healthy and available Rodgers would provide options and cover. Still, the cupboard isn’t bare for the time being.

By the way, it sounds like Backe and sporting director Erik Soler are close to executing Plan B, whatever that is …