Thursday, November 18, 2010

Agudelo's Big Night; RBNY Notes

I'm sure by now every Red Bulls fan has seen Juan Agudelo's match-winning goal for the US Men's National Team in their friendly against South Africa - but it's worth another look back so enjoy!

Again, Ian Darke outdid himself with a stellar call on the goal in what was, for the most part, a dull, defensive match. In addition to Agudelo, Tim Ream and a host of other youngsters made their debuts, including the Norwegian-American Mikkel Diskerud, whose nimble footwork set up Agudelo's winner. For his part, Ream had a few somewhat shaky moments early on but recovered well. After several barren years when Red Bulls players couldn't get anywhere near the USMNT, to have two youngsters coming through the program is very exciting.

Regrettably, you're already seeing bloggers and some in the media touting Agudelo as the next big thing - pressure he probably doesn't need just shy of his 18th birthday. Hopefully, he can keep his head screwed on straight, continue to work hard and show RBNY fans the same sparkling form next season.  If he can do that, and Thierry Henry can recover from his injury woes, the Red Bulls could have a very dangerous attack.  Happily, Agudelo seems to be a fairly humble kid, eager to learn and wait his turn.  Could he get another call up for the USMNT soon?  You'd have to think that at this point he's a better option up front than someone like Robbie Findley, so I doubt that Bob Bradley will wait too long to give him his second cap.

There's also good news about another "Baby Bull," Tony Tchani.  Contrary to expectation, despite logging 1,610 minutes over the 2010 season, Tchani will retain his Generation Adidas status through the 2011, as his name was not listed among this year's graduates. In practical terms, this mean's that Tchani's salary will not count against the Red Bulls' cap in 2011 and they will not be required to protect the midfielder in the upcoming expansion draft, opening up a protected slot for another player.  That gives RBNY more money to play with and more roster flexibility as they seek to replace departed and retired veterans such as Seth Stammler, John Wolyniec, Mike Petke and Juan Pablo Angel.

All is quiet on the transfer front, with the exception of one strange report that appeared in the German media yesterday linking 40-year old keeper Faryd Mondragon with a move to New York.  Setting aside for a moment the player's age, it seems unlikely to me that the Red Bulls would splash the cash on what would presumably be a starting keeper after the solid season they just got from Bouna Condoul.  I couldn't see the former Colombian #1 arriving on anything less than a sizable salary (i.e. starting keeper money).  I suppose there is an outside chance that we could see the Red Bulls jettison Bouna.  Despite his obvious shortcomings, that would seem to be the height of foolishness unless the replacement were of indisputably higher quality.  Does Mondragon fit that description?  I doubt it.  So we'll put this one in the "unlikely" pile for now.

Lastly, I will be traveling to Toronto for MLS Cup, having secured my plane fare and accommodations some time ago.  I'll try to take photos and video in and around the game, and may even attend a blogger get-together on Friday.  It's gonna be tough watching Dallas or Colorado lift the Cup, but if my previous experience in 2008 is any indication, it should be a fun event in any case.
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