Friday, July 13, 2012

Red Bulls Go Trade Happy, Acquire LeToux, Gaudette

Out Goes Dane, In Comes Seba
The New York Red Bulls went trade happy on Friday, concluding a pair of deals to bolster their lineup for the second half of the season. By far the biggest move of the day was the trade of speedy veteran Dane Richards for the much less speedy but arguably far more productive Sebastian Le Toux (yes, that Sebastian Le Toux). In a separate move earlier in the day, RBNY exchanged a second round supplemental draft pick in 2014 for the experienced goalkeeper Bill Gaudette of Los Angeles Galaxy.

With Ryan Meara having played every minute of every meaningful game this season for New York, the trade for Gaudette looks like an insurance move at best. If he sees the pitch this season in a league game many would be surprised. The real blockbuster is the Richards for Le Toux trade. Let's break that down.

By jettisoning Richards, the Red Bulls have parted with their longest tenured current player and a remarkably fit and healthy winger who could be relied on week in week out, even if the quality of his contribution from game to game could vary widely. Richards is one of the fastest players in the league, and is skilled at getting behind defenders and creating havoc on the break. The issue with the Jamaican has always been his decision-making in the final third. Once he uses his blazing speed to get behind defenders, he often makes the wrong decision, either giving the ball away, firing straight at the keeper or blazing a shot over the bar, when distributing to a teammate might be a better option.

The addition of Le Toux makes an already slow Red Bulls team slower still, but provides the team with a much more consistent performer. Le Toux logged double digit totals in goals with Philadelphia Union before, controversially, being dealt to Vancouver Whitecaps, where has racked up another four league goals this season. The Frenchman is better with the ball at his feet than Richards, able to slot into a number of positions in midfield and up front, and probably fits better with the New York attack at the moment than Richards, with his track star qualities.

It will take a while to process this move. The big question is whether this is a prelude to another (designated player?) move or whether Erik Solér has given up on his DP pursuit in favor of a familiar player who is already well acclimated to MLS.

Ironically, two of Le Toux's first three games will be against teams for which he formerly starred - Seattle Sounders and Philadelphia Union.
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