The New York Red Bulls 2012 season came to a crashing halt on November 8th and everyone knew there would be changes in the following days. It only took the organization to confirm that Hans Backe would not be back at head coach and that Andy Roxburgh was the new Sporting Director of the Club. Along with General Manager Jerome de Bontin (taking over the business operations that Chris Heck was formerly in charge of) and Red Bulls Global Sporting Director Gerard Houllier, the three men were tasked with rebuilding a team, as well as hiring a coach, that could maintain its positioning in the east and battle for MLS Cup. Somethings, however, are much easier said then done and the three powers that be have 17 years of heartache, bad decisions, and even worse luck bogging them down.
November 19th would start the player movement as 10 players were told their contracts would not be picked up. Those ten players: Bill Gaudette, Jeremy Vuolo, Jonathan Borrajo, Stephen Keel (FC Dallas Re-Entry Draft), Tyler Ruthven, Jan Gunnar Solli, Teemu Tainio, Jose Angulo, Jhonny Arteaga, Corey Hertzog. Most of these cuts made sense as the club needed to clear cap room for the incoming head coach. While some players were let go, two young American standouts had new deals in place with the club. Defenders Brandon Barklage and Connor Lade were both rewarded for their 2012 success with the club. The club would then aquire Portland Timbers defender Kosuke Kimura, RSL Defender Jamison Olave, and RSL forward Fabian Espindola. For Kimura, the Red Bulls gave up the homegrown rights to Bryan Gallego, a promising young defender who captained the US U-18s and is a member of the US U-20’s. The Red Bulls also received a 2013 second round Superdraft pick. For the pair of former RSL players, the Red Bulls just gave up allocation money. Olave could fit well next to Holgersson if he can stay healthy, though that is a very long shot. Kimura will have to battle Barklage for that right back spot but it is good cover for NY. Espindola’s pickup screams of Thierry Henry’s influence. Espindola was a Red Bull killer of the years and Henry knew it. Henry often talked about the play of Espindola and it is well known of his disdain for Kenny Cooper. Sebastian LeToux was next to go as he journeyed back to the Philadelphia Union for young Costa Rican forward/midfielder Josue Martinez.
The best move of the Red Bulls offseason came on December 13th as the club and Mexican defender Rafa Marquez mutually agreed to end his contract. It is believed that New York bought Marquez out of his 4.6 million dollar contract. The move opens up a tremendous amount of cap space and a designated player spot for New York. This ended the failed Rafa Marquez experiment in NY. Fans did not show up in droves to see the Mexican star and we were all quickly reminded why he is one of US Soccer’s biggest villains. There were too few instances where having Rafa on the field for NY made them better. In the end Marquez’s salary and polarizing persona cost NY more than they gained. The Red Bulls have recently stated they are not looking to fill the third DP slot and it will be someone who can they can build the future around.
The Red Bulls would then sign Juninho Pernambucano, a 37-year-old dead ball specialist, who was best known for his days at Lyon back in 2002-2008. Juninho, despite his age, has not slowed down as he played 50 games since 2011 and scored 14 goals.
The latest move the Red Bulls have made came this past Friday in the trading of Joel Lindpere to the Chicago Fire for an international roster spot. It’s a move that shocked fans but in the face of a rebuild, it’s a move that made sense. After stellar seasons with New York (including the opening two goals of Red Bull Arena), Lindpere’s contract was reworked and the player was, deservedly, awarded more money. However, 2012 was not Lindpere’s best season as he was relegated to a wide position over his favorable and more productive central position. With Backe and Soler gone, only four players remain on the team who were signed before 2012 in Thierry Henry, Dax McCarty, Connor Lade, and Roy Miller.
More moves are definitely set to come for NY and many names are rumored to be headed to the Big Apple (it is silly season after all). With the draft fast approaching and no coach yet in place, NY’s roster is dwindling in numbers. While the Red Bulls have a third designated player spot open, I doubt they will sign someone this transfer window and I am skeptical a DP will arrive during the summer window. For a complete list of these and more transactions and anything that happens the remainder of the offseason, check out our Total-MLS Transaction Tracker
(image courtesy of newyorkredbulls.com)