Harrison, NJ (January 27th, 2015) – In a flurry of player movement, it seems the New York Red Bulls are well on their way to solidifying their 2015 roster. The most significant transaction came in the form of a trade that sent young stud Ambroise Oyongo and midfielder Eric Alexander, along with allocation money and an international roster spot, to the Montreal Impact for midfielder Felipe Martins and the top spot in MLS’ allocation order, the mechanism for which returning US Men’s National Team players are distributed to teams in the league.
RBNY Need to Know: After a Flurry of Moves, New York Reveals their Preseason Roster
This bold move represents the first major transaction orchestrated by Red Bull’s new sporting director Ali Curtis. Curtis has come under serious fire from fans for the release of former coach Mike Petke, and the handling of that dismissal.
This trade provides both clubs with something they wanted. The Impact get a solid midfielder in Alexander, one that has box to box intelligence, plus they get Oyongo, who’s dynamic play on the overlap made him a fan favorite. The Red Bulls get a dynamic midfielder in Felipe, and the coveted top spot in the allocation order, one that puts them in the drivers seat for signing the talented Sacha Kljestan, who’s return to MLS has been rumored for months. It seems that the LA Galaxy will miss out on the man they have been chasing since midseason last year yet again. It’s also very apparent that Kljestan is the Red Bulls’ intended target. On the move, head coach Jesse Marsch said, “We wouldn’t have done a deal if we didn’t have something in place (with Kljestan).”
On Felipe, Marsch talked the move up from a soccer perspective talking about the midfielder’s ability to fill a #10 role, something the Red Bulls have lacked in recent years, as well as his ability to play from a deeper role. As far as the allocation spot, Marsch stated that the announcement of the signing of the intended target will come within days, not weeks.
Essentially, with this move, the Red Bulls off load a replaceable midfielder and a player that has one foot out the door to Europe for another dynamic attacking piece and positioning that should essentially turn into Kljestan. Not bad for a day’s work on Curtis’ part.
As training camp begun, it seemed that the most pressing issues were at centerback. During a conference call this afternoon, Marsch confirmed three other player moves. Damien Perrinelle is on his way back into the fold according to Marsch. Perinelle was the french 2nd division defender signed to provide some depth at centerback for the multi-front schedule New York faced toward the last half of their 2014 schedule. Perinelle was largely inconspicuous but also didn’t receive much playing time, as the club unceremoniously crashed out of CONCACAF Champions League. Down the stretch, Perinelle was often not on the 18 man roster. This may be the first chance many fans of the club will get to see the frenchman.
In addition to Perinelle, Marsch also stated that the team had finalized a deal for defender Ronald Zubar. Zubar played for French clubs Caen and Marseille, and moved to the Wolverhampton Wanderers, who were part of the English Premier League at that point. He played for the Wolves until 2013, when he returned to France, this time playing for Ajaccio. At 6’1”, Zubar seems to be poised to be able to handle the physicality of MLS, and has technical eloquence to a backline that often lacked just that at the start of last season.
Another compelling move mentioned by Marsch is the addition of former first round pick Andrew Jean Baptiste. Baptiste, born in Brooklyn, has been rumored to have been on RBNY’s radar for weeks. He has played almost entirely in MLS, putting in time with Portland Timbers, the team that drafted him, and Chivas USA. Baptiste was drafted 8th overall in the 2012 Superdraft after spending two years with the University of Connecticut Huskies. One source described Batiste as “one of the best athletes (he’s) ever seen. He has all the tools when he’s on his game. He can shut down opponents, and he is really well balanced with a low center of gravity… very rare in a guy his size.”
In other back line related news, Matt Miazga, who is currently training with Red Bull Leipzig, sustained a knock during a match with Red Bull Salzburg today. Marsch provided assurance that it was minor and that the yound defender would still be joining the team for MLS preseason training in Orlando as planned. The handling of Miazga after the US U-20 team earned a berth in the U-20 World Cup in a recent tournament has come under scrutiny. Many are left questioning why Miazga was not in Orlando with the team. There has been some chatter that Leipzig is working on a loan deal for the player that most consider to be one of the hottest prospects in MLS.
Provided that the Miazga loan is a bunch of smoke with no fire, the recent signings would leave RBNY with some reasonable depth at a position that they had only Miazga and Armando in just a week ago. On top of that Ibrahim Sekagaya, the central defender that has plied his trade with the club since 2013, is back in training camp, although his future with the club is more muddled. Figure that Marsch will take a good long hard look at the veteran before making any further decsions on the defender’s future with the club.
In addition to the above moves, New York unveiled its 2015 preseason roster. In addition to Sekagaya, Red Bull has brought other trialists into camp. The list includes defenders Bryan Gallego, who played in the RBNY Academy before being traded to Portland for Kosuke Kimura, Colin Heffron, and Tim Ward. Ward is a familiar face around the organization, having played for the Metrostars in 2005.
On the midfield side of things, Red Bull invited Anderson Cajano, who played for Red Bull Brazil, Marius Obekop, and Manolo Sanchez. Obekop is another familiar face in New York, and will be playing to get passed his scouting report of “skilled but tactically deficient.”
At forward, it is more telling who is not on the roster. Tim Cahill, playing in the Asian Cup, has been the topic of conversation for weeks, having been rumored to have a tentative deal with a club in Qatar, and has been linked to clubs in China. Marsch addressed this on the conference call today, saying that some conversations with Tim have taken place, and any rumblings of Cahill leaving are rumors only. However, in the call it doesn’t seem that Cahill is part of the team’s plans going forward, as he was not mentioned until asked about the situation.
All in all, the New York Red Bulls seem to be well on their way to building a roster that will not only be competitive, but also highly skilled with a strong spine. Stay tuned, there will undoubtedly be more to come.
Photo credit: Rob Tringali/New York Red Bulls
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