Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Red Bulls Dump Ibrahim; Stover Responds to Criticisms

The writing was on the wall for Salou Ibrahim. Given several chances during the preseason to show that he could be a positive contributor in 2011, the giant Ghanaian (pictured above, with David Beckham admiring his skills) failed to impress. When he was dropped to the reserve team for the 4-0 shellacking at the hands of FC Dallas' first team down in Arizona, he looked listless, unmotivated and disinterested. Then, just a week ago, Hans Backe ruled out Ibrahim as an emergency striker when it looked as if Juan Agudelo might not be fit in time for the opener. At that point it became clear the Red Bulls would part ways with the player. It was just a matter of when.

Well we got our answer yesterday when the club formally announced that Ibrahim and his $260,000+ salary had been waived. Since he was not in the squad of 18 for the home opener, we can probably assume that the Red Bulls made the move before kickoff on Saturday. The new collective bargaining agreement allows a club to "buy out" one player a year and not have his salary count against the cap. Assuming that RBNY used this mechanism, they will still be on the hook for Ibrahim's compensation (so don't shed too many tears for our man Salou), but releasing him will open up considerable breathing space for a future signing over the summer, should Hans Backe should choose to do so.

So how can we put a bow on Ibrahim's career in New York? I think it's fair to say that he never really fit into the system that Backe was trying to implement, which focuses on maintaining possession and short passing. Salou's game was all about "posting up" defenders, winning high balls and using his big body to cause chaos. He did score three goals in 19 appearances and created some headaches for the opposition, but he created just as many headaches for Red Bulls fans with his poor finishing, lack of pace and awful touch. Salou is a big blunt instrument, and clearly that's not something that Backe feels that he needs in his toolbox at the moment.

We were inundated with responses from readers when we ran our piece on the concessions horror show at Red Bull Arena on Saturday. If you don't believe me, just take a look at the comments thread. That's only a fraction of the feedback we received. I have at least a half dozen other e-mails detailing major problems, and more stories from Twitter.

To RBNY's credit, they have responded quickly to the criticisms. In an e-mail to fans, Managing Director Erik Stover pledged that the club "will have these issues corrected" before the Houston match on April 2, and will offer fans a "make good" to compensate them for the problems on Saturday. What that might be remains to be seen. It's nice to see Stover being proactive about this, but, as ever, the proof will be in the pudding.

Finally, if you'd like to relive some of the sights and sounds from Saturday's win, check out this video. Nice to see the cameras heading out toward Newark to catch the supporters march-in. No video of the lines at the concession stands, of course!
blog comments powered by Disqus