Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday Red Bulls Round-Up

Pssst... There's a Massive Clearance Sale on RBNY Reserves!
As insane hordes of shoppers rip each other to shreds in search of bargains, while others remain paralyzed in a Thanksgiving food coma, the New York Red Bulls are busy reshaping their squad. They got in the holiday spirit early on Wednesday by axing a half dozen players, none more prominent than midfielder John Rooney, whose selection in the 2011 MLS Superdraft was a bit of a surprise. Our man Homebrew Tim analyzed the salary cap ramifications of the moves on Wednesday, pointing out that while the bulk of the players released came from the off-budget roster, the Red Bull were still able to free up some cap space and international slots as they look to re-shape the squad for 2012.

Inevitably, there will be an outcry from some Red Bulls fans about one player or another that could have turned into to something special - that's just how we roll. Maybe it's just because we've been Mageed too many times. On the other hand, neither Conor Chinn nor Irving Garcia has been able to find another home in MLS, despite limited success last season in US Open Cup qualifying and friendly matches. Sometimes it's just best to cut a player loose.

The Red Bulls' putrid performance in the 2011 US Open Cup - where they were nearly beaten by FC New York at home before getting walloped in Chicago - may have been an early indication of depth problems to come. Coupled with their woeful reserve league record (an MLS worst -10 goal differential), it's not hard to see why Hans Backe was reluctant to go deep into his subs bench - there simply was not a lot of talent there. If the Red Bulls want to withstand the rigors of the 2012 season they will need to be able to rely on more than 12 to 15 players.

Of course, the squad imbalance is a problem the Red Bulls created for themselves when they traded away players such as Tony Tchani and Austin Da Luz and got little in return. Moreover, having given away draft selections to the likes of Toronto FC and DC United, RBNY will be limited in terms of what it can do through this year's draft, with only a second round and several supplemental round selections remaining. The majority of new talent added will have to come through trades, transfers, loans or academy signings.

Hopefully Erik Solér and Backe have learned from the many mistakes they made in 2011 and will be able to find a way to shape a more sensible squad. Cutting loose remaining dead weight such as Carl Robinson, Brian Nielsen (not to mention a goalkeeper or two) could give them even more room to maneuver. If this first announcement is any indication, the Red Bulls should be very active over the winter.

A few other notes:
  • Tim Ream will train with English sides West Bromwich Albion and Bolton Wanderers leading up to the US National Team January training camp. Ream is the latest of a growing number of USMNT players who have gone to Europe for off-season training, as part of Jurgen Klinsmann's new fitness policy. In the article, Ream's agent also confirms the well-circulated story that RBNY received an offer for Ream from Arsenal following the 2010 MLS season but declined. If an offer comes in for Ream over the coming weeks in the neighborhood of £4m, which reports indicate is what RBNY are asking, there's a chance that we could have an entirely different central defense pairing next season, not to mention a tidy pile of allocation cash.  Ream's teammate Juan Agudelo continues to train with Stuttgart in Germany.
  • Your rumor of the day has the Red Bulls interested in Venezuelan goalkeeper Renny Vega of Caracas FC. Remember the last time the club went shopping in the Venezuelan league? I do, and it wasn't pretty.
That's it for now. Enjoy the remainder of your Turkey Day weekend!

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