New York Red Bulls coach Jesse Marsch said his team is rested and ready to continue their MLS playoff run.
After seeing off D.C. United on Nov. 8, the Red Bulls had to wait through the international break before the Eastern Conference final begins in Columbus on Sunday (5 p.m. ET; ESPN).
The Red Bulls trained this week without two key defenders who were on international duty, Matt Miazga with the United States and Kemar Lawrence with Jamaica, while reserve Karl Ouimette was with Canada.
Marsch said he allowed his remaining players some light workouts last week but was slowly ramping up the pressure ahead of the game against Crew SC.
"We've been very open about what the challenges are and where we are," Marsch said, according to MLSsoccer.com. "Last week it was about down-throttling the physical part and this week we're trying to get it back up.
"They're plenty rested, they're fresh and they're ready to go."
Captain Dax McCarty said the team had to be cautious not to pick up any injuries while getting back into action.
"We're really focusing on making sure that we treat this week as a really tough training sessions," McCarty said, "try to get your base of fitness back under you after two days off and get the sharpness with the ball back.
"It's all about striking that balance between pushing it hard and making sure guys aren't picking up little injuries."
Asked if the long layoff could have a negative affect on the team, winger Mike Grella said "it's a double-edged sword."
"It's nice because you do get a rest and some time back home, but you still need to get sharp," Grella said. "You have to get it going again, pick up where you left off, and that's not an easy thing to do. But both teams are presented with that challenge because of the break."