After the dust from the Super-Draft and Supplement Draft settled (you know, from all the picks that New York made) the Red Bulls continued to seek cover across the field. Of course, though, we have to begin with the exits from Red Bull Arena. First and foremost on that list is young American international central defender Tim Ream. Lots of things have been said about Tim Ream’s transfer from New York to Bolton of the English Premier League. Now that he is officially not a Red Bull, I don’t have to feel guilty for admitting that Ream is vastly overrated. He has yet to prove himself at the international level despite numerous opportunities. The whole of the American soccer community was ranting and raving about Ream’s ability to play the ball out of the back, but he seemingly lost that control of possession and distribution in his second season in MLS. In fact, instead of directing traffic from the back, Ream instead got caught in possession and coughed the ball up to opposition on a number of occasions in league play. I’m not sure what Owen Coyle (or Arsenal scouts, for that matter) see in the 24 year old Ream, but maybe there’s a reason the Bolton Wanderers have been struggling in and around the relegation zone all season.
However, Tim Ream’s goal line clearance against Landon Donovan in the 2011 season was nothing short of inspirational for someone who played defense as a kid.
More news after the jump..
The Red Bulls made three picks in January 17’s Supplement Draft. The players are University of Virginia defender Mike Volk, University of Pennsylvania midfielder Christian Barreiro and Hastings College midfielder Nate Polak. All three were college standouts, earning conference selections, but I doubt any of them will see the field in a league match this season. If any of them are signed by the team, it will simply be to fill up roster slots.
Speaking to MLSsoccer.com on January 19, Hans Backe confirmed that Frank Rost will not be returning to the Red Bulls for 2012. Personally, I am thrilled by this news. I don’t think Rost exhibited the quality to necessitate a Designated Player tag. This announcement now frees up New York’s third DP slot and an international roster slot, not to mention significant salary cap space. “He just had a contract for the end of the season,” said head coach Hans Backe. There was no transfer, the former German international goalkeeper will walk away from New York as a free agent with an eye back in his native country.
On January 20, Erik Soler announced that the oft-injured Welsh midfielder Carl Robinson had retired to join the coaching staff in Vancouver. “We want to thank Carl for his service to the New York Red Bulls. He has been a great servant for this club for the past two years and a true mentor for many of our young players. Carl has been a fantastic professional and ambassador for our club. We are excited for Carl, as he moves on in his career. He has a lot of potential and we wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors.”
On January 25, NY Red Bulls announced the signing of American goalkeeper Jeremy Vuolo (25). Vuolo played at the collegiate level for Hartwick College in Oneonta and then for Syracuse University. The ‘keeper with PDL experience spent the past year playing professionally in Finland’s First Division with FC Oulo. “After doing extensive scouting, we believe that Jeremy has a very bright future ahead of him and can compete at the MLS level,” said Red Bulls General Manager and Sporting Director Erik Soler. “He had a very good year playing professionally in Finland and brings many great attributes to the table. We expect that he will compete for a starting spot this year.”
This signing is a positive for the Red Bulls, surely, but exactly with whom is Vuolo competing for that starting spot? Rookie Ryan Meara?
As a replacement for Tim Ream, on January 30 NY signed Wilman Conde (29) formerly of the Chicago Fire who spent the past season in Mexico with Atlas. Conde was a force in the league in 2009 for the Fire, earning MLS starting XI honors. The experienced and physical central defender certainly has a different style of play to Ream, but one that probably suits MLS better. In the club’s official press release on the subject Erik Soler, Sporting Director and General Manager, is quoted as “One of our offseason priorities was to solidify our defense and adding Wilman certainly does that… During his stint in Major League Soccer, Wilman quickly established himself as one of the League’s top defenders and he will play an immediate role in our back line. He is strong, physical and experienced and he will be a tremendous addition to our club.”
Head coach Hans Backe was quoted in the New York Post saying, “Conde, I almost rate him as the best centerback in the league; physical, phenomenal left foot, good in the air, tackles, good understanding of the game, experienced. I think that is absolutely a player that has almost everything.’’ And Conde’s deputy in the center of defense was also clearly excited about the prospect of the Colombian joining the ranks in New York, “Just solid, very strong, you just think of a typical strong centerback,’’ said Stephen Keel. “But from what I remember, nothing but positives on him,. When I heard that was a possible thing and it might go through, that’s awesome. That just helps bolster our team. I just remember great things about him.’’
The team’s fans can now rest assured of the return of two key players from the 2011 season. On January 31, the club announced that it had reached at agreement to re-sign Joel Lindpere. “Joel has been an important part of our progress over the last two seasons and has become one of our most popular players because of his work rate, performance and commitment to the club,” General Manager and Sporting Director Erik Soler said in a statement. “We wanted to reward him with a new contract to recognize his efforts and are excited that we agreed to a new contract with him. We look forward to having him as a Red Bull in the coming years, as we aim to win the M.L.S. Cup.” Lindpere always seemed to pop up in the second half of games in which the Red Bulls were losing and come up with a goal out of grit and determined play.
The following day pint-sized striker Luke Rodgers posted on his facebook page that “Iv got my visa, be joining the red bulls in mexico this week. Cant wait!” The Englishman’s prior troubles obeying the laws of his native country created complications obtaining a visa to work in the United States which has now been cleared up. Rodgers returns to a stronger frontline thanks to the addition of Kenny Cooper in a draft-day trade with Portland Timbers. While this is good news, it will leave Red Bulls fans wondering where Juan Agudelo will find minutes in 2012 now farther down Hans Backe’s pecking order.
Backe still expects Icelandic midfielder Victor Palsson to sign soon. The MLS transfer window is open until April so there is plenty of time to bring in the much-needed playmaking central midfielder.