Friday, January 7, 2011

Kassel Signing Imminent; Superdraft Notes

It's been a long time since Red Bulls fans have experienced such a quiet offseason.  While other MLS teams have been announcing roster moves and unveiling coaching changes (and while the David Beckham to Tottenham Hotspur loan saga has been playing out in L.A.), RBNY fans have had to be content with the merest crumbs of information.  At some point, the Jan-Gunnar Solli and Luke Rodgers signings should be made official, but nothing has been formally announced yet.  We can assume that Erik Solér and Hans Backe are on the hunt for another player or two to round out the squad, but who they might be is anyone's guess.

One move that does seem imminent is the signing of the University of Maryland midfielder Matt Kassel to a homegrown contract.  The Washington Post's Steve Goff revealed on his blog yesterday that the Terrapins' coach Sasho Cirovski had as much as confirmed Kassel's intention to go pro.  If signed, Kassel (pictured above taking a penalty against North Carolina) would be the Red Bulls' third homegrown player following Giorgi Chirgadze and Juan Agudelo.  As SBNation's Jeremiah Oshan points out, this is a sign of things to come for the league, as the academy systems begin to really take root.  Luckily, the Red Bulls have a bit of a head start in this respect on most other MLS clubs.  Combine that with ownership's deep pockets and the very real possibility of a new training center on the horizon and you can start to see how bright the future could be in Harrison.

As for Kassel's attributes as a player, he is a hard working midfielder a bit in the Seth Stammler mold, but with better attacking skill, more of an eye for goal and greater danger from set pieces.  Kassel notched 11 goals and 24 assists over his three years at Maryland, with the bulk of them coming in 2010 (9 goals and 11 assists).  Most experts envisioned him as a first round selection in this year's Superdraft.  With the new homegrown player rules in place this season, signing Kassel was a no-brainer.  If he turns out to be a solid MLS professional then great.  If not, the Red Bulls will have sacrificed very little.

As for the Superdraft, there is still a chance that viper might make the trip to Baltimore, but work duties will keep me away.  Can MLS move it to a Saturday, please?  A sizable contingent of RBNY fans will be traveling down by car and bus to abuse DC and Philly supporters and generally make a nuisance of themselves.  Do us proud!

The Red Bulls have the 13th selection in this year's draft, and will likely be looking to shore up central defense, the wings and the two fullback positions.  My Talking Bull co-host Ben Schneider made the RBNY selections in SBNation's mock draft earlier this week, selecting UNC defender Jalil Anibaba in the first round, the University of Akron fullback Chris Korb in the middle of he second round and SMU midfielder Josue Soto with the 20th overall pick.  Let's see how accurate his predictions turn out to be.  Could we see the Red Bulls surprise people and trade away a pick or two to land a player?  We'll find out a week from today.
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