Sneak Peek: Controversial moves hang over Red Bulls

The New York Red Bulls, first in the Eastern Conference during the regular season for the last two seasons, have made only two changes of note but they were big ones, trading captain Dax McCarty to Chicago and parting ways with technical director Ali Curtis. Those moves hang over the Red Bulls as they open play Wednesday against the Vancouver Whitecaps in the Concacaf Champions League.

Opening day ...
Projected XI -- Robles; Zizzo, Long, Collin, Lawrence; Davis, Felipe, Kljestan; Royer, Wright-Phillips, Veron.

Red Bulls head coach Jesse Marsch wanted nothing to do with questions about McCarty, who had criticized Marsch's handling of the trade, and Curtis.

“Look," he said at Monday's Media Day, "I’m not going to answer any more questions on Ali and Dax."

It was hard not to focus of their departures as there are few changes of note.

“The core has been together a good two years with small additions here and there," admitted Marsch. "There is a real sense of identity of who we are and how we want to play and continue to build into that. We’re more sophisticated tactically and mentally.”

Still, the opening game, a month after the start of preseason training, comes very early.

“We don’t feel fully prepared," Marsch said, "but there’s an urgency and excitement. We’ll have a full complement for Wednesday night, but we’re not all totally fit and totally in shape. The only benefit is that we have Vancouver and we’re both in same the boat.”

Sean Davis has replaced McCarty in midfield, while the 2016 USL Defender of the Year Aaron Long should get a shot at starting at center back.

The Red Bulls should be at full strength for the opener against the 'Caps. Midfielders Mike Grella (arthroscopic knee surgery) and Alex Muyl (facial injury) should be available, as will be Damien Perrinelle, who joined the Red Bulls for the second part of winter training, and Kemar Lawrence, who played with Jamaica against Honduras last week.

Who's in ...
GOALKEEPERS: Rafael Diaz (NY Red Bulls II, USL Signing), Evan Louro (Univ. of Michigan, Homegrown). DEFENDERS: Hassan Ndam (Rainbow FC/CMR, Transfer), Michael Murillo (San Francisco FC/PAN, Loan). MIDFIELDERS: Arun Basuljevic (Georgetown Univ., Homegrown), Zeiko Lewis (Boston College, SuperDraft), Dan Metzger (NY Red Bulls II, USL Signing).

Who's out ...
GOALKEEPERS: Kyle Reynish. DEFENDERS: Chris Duvall (Montreal Impact, Trade via Minnesota United), Karl Ouimette (SF Deltas, Free Agent), Ronald Zubar (Red Star/FRA, Free Agent). MIDFIELDERS: Dax McCarty (Chicago Fire, Trade), Shaun Wright-Phillips. FORWARDS: Omer Damari (Maccabi Haifa/ISR, Loan).

First five games ...
Feb. 22 -- Vancouver Whitecaps (Concacaf Champions League).
March 2 -- at Vancouver Whitecaps (Concacaf Champions League).
March 5 -- at Atlanta United.
March 11 -- Colorado Rapids.
March 19 -- at Seattle Sounders.

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