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New York Red Bulls examine attacking options as Kaku decision looms

Apr 14, 2019; Kansas City, KS, USA; New York Red Bulls forward Alejandro Romero Gamarra (10) reacts after receiving a red card during the second half against Sporting KC at Children's Mercy Park. (Peter G. Aiken/USA TODAY Sports)

NEW YORK — Saturday night at Gillette Stadium, New York Red Bulls coach Chris Armas will catch a glimpse of his team’s future in attacking midfield.

The question is: How long into the future will that look be?

When the Red Bulls meet the New England Revolution, they will be without midfield maestro Kaku, who will serve a one-game ban for his late red card in Sunday’s 2-2 draw against Sporting Kansas City.

“We have other weapons, other guys who have proven they can make plays and fill in with a real understanding of what we expect with and without the ball,” Armas said after training Wednesday. “We’ve thought hard about it. We’ll look over these next couple of days and we’ll be ready to throw everything at New England.”

There is a strong likelihood the Paraguayan international will receive significant supplemental discipline for kicking the ball into the stands during the last match and into the face of a Sporting Kansas City fan at Children’s Mercy Park.

That decision could come as early as Friday or at some point next week. But one thing appears clear — the Red Bulls will play without their attacking midfielder for some time.

“There’s not too much emotion built in it, it’s matter-of-fact. We have to make a change there,” Armas said. “You almost enjoy that opportunity for someone else. Sometimes the other guys don’t get those opportunities. This opens the window.”

When Kaku was left out of the gameday 18-man roster against the San Jose Earthquakes last month for what Armas described as a “minor internal issue,” Vincent Bezecourt slotted into that role and he’s perhaps the most obvious option. He had 22 successful passes in the final third, 26 in the opposition half, two key passes, won three corners and had three shots in a strong 90-minute shift in the Red Bulls’ only win this season.

Homegrown rookie Omir Fernandez, who has earned one start and made two league appearances, is another possibility.

“Of course we’re not going to be able to replace Kaku with another Kaku,” midfielder Sean Davis said. “But we do have several other options in the middle of the field that I think are more than capable of stepping in and having a big game.”

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