Wednesday, November 10, 2010

RBNY News and Notes - Postseason Blues Edition

Even as Red Bulls fans continue to lick their wounds, the wheels have begun turning on the 2011 season.  With RBNY out of the playoffs there's still a lot for Erik Solér and Hans Backe to think about, and a lot of work to do as they seek to build an even more competitive squad for next year.

Let's start with the expansion draft, which will take place on November 24, just a few days after the MLS Cup Final in Toronto.  Two weeks ago I looked at the Red Bulls roster and gave you my best guesstimate of the players we were likely to see protected by RBNY.  Thinking about it again in the light of our playoff failure, I hope the club considers leaving Roy Miller unprotected in favor of another player with potential upside, such as Jeremy Hall.

The status of Angel is also a bit of a question mark.  As a designated player with (we presume) a no trade clause, the Red Bulls are obligated to protect him.  But what if Angel were to waive the no trade clause or ask for it to be removed it from his contract?  The Red Bulls would then presumably lose Angel to one of the expansion teams, who could then either sign him outright or trade his rights to the highest bidder. This may not be possible under league rules, but we've never seen the expiration of the contract of a DP as successful as Angel in an expansion year, so it's worthy of consideration at the very least.

Another variable is the status of Tony Tchani, who will be automatically protected if he retains his Generation Adidas designation but would need to be included on the club's list of eleven if he graduates from GA.  Yesterday, Philadelphia Union blog The Brotherly Game reported that their Rookie of the Year contender Danny Mwanga would retain his Generation Adidas status next season after logging 1,461 minutes of playing time.  Tchani's total comes in at 1,610 - almost two full games more than Mwanga - so it's unlikely that he will remain as a GA player, but certainly possible.  It would be nice to see the league provide fans with some guidelines on what it takes for a player to graduate from the program, but I won't hold my breath.

Solér, Backe and Richie Williams will also be preparing themselves for the MLS Superdraft, even as questions hang over one Red Bull Academy player currently in college.  Remember midfielder Matt Kassel, the RB Academy product that fans were clamoring for the club to sign as a homegrown player as early as 2008?  After a few respectable but not outstanding seasons at the University of Maryland, Kassel is starting to show what all of the fuss was about, winning accolades and racking up career high totals for goals and assists. The question, of course, is whether he would be open to a pro contract at this point, just one year shy of graduation, but unless MLS decides to change the homegrown player rules again RBNY will continue to hold his rights regardless.  Could the likely return of an MLS Reserve League influence his decision?  Stay tuned.

One player who seems certain to be part of the Red Bulls squad next year is Norwegian midfielder Jan Gunnar Solli.  Solli (pictured above) wrapped up a four year stint at Brann Bergen with a man of the match performance in a 1-0 victory over Odd Grenland.  From all accounts Solli is a hardworking, versatile player in the Joel Lindpere mold who can slot in at right midfield, central midfield or even right back.  What his signing means for Dane Richards or even Mehdi Ballouchy is anyone's guess.  One thing seems certain - with Albright, Hall and potentially Solli all options at right back we've probably seen the last of Carey Talley in a Red Bulls shirt (not that there was ever much to see in the first place).

Finally, Ben Schneider and I will be recording our season finale episode of our "fancast" Talking Bull this weekend.  We'll discuss the San Jose game (as quickly and painlessly as possible), give out our awards for Player of the Year and Disappointment of the Year, pick our favorite moments and games, and start to look forward to next season.  We'd like your input as well, so either tweet us at @ or send an e-mail to and give us your nominees.  You can also leave a note in the comments section here on The Viper's Nest.
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