We are staying in the Eastern Conference a bit more today in our season previews. Time to go to New York to see what the Red Bulls have been up to this offseason.
Just based on the ins and outs alone, the Red Bulls have been one of the most active clubs this offseason in MLS. Along with the fact that they promoted Mike Petke to the head coaching role too, the Red Bulls will have a new look to them this season for sure.
But one has to wonder, with all the moves this offseason and shredding of salary, have the Red Bulls done enough to finally climb the MLS mountain?
2012 MLS Record: 16-9-9 (3rd in Eastern Conference), 57 points
D Kosuke Kimura (12/3/12 – trade from Portland)
D Jámison Olave (12/3/12 – trade from Real Salt Lake)
F Fabián Espíndola (12/3/12 – trade from Real Salt Lake)
F Josué Martínez (12/6/12 – trade from Philadelphia)
GK Santiago Castano (12/11/12 – Homegrown)
F Amando Moreno (12/11/12 – Homegrown)
M Juninho Pernambucano (12/17/12 – free transfer from Vasco da Gama)
M Rubén Izquierdo (2/8/13 – free)
M Eric Alexander (2/11/13 – trade from Portland)[/twocol_one] [twocol_one_last]OUT:
F Jose Angulo (11/19/12 – option declined)
F Jhonny Arteaga (11/19/12 – option declined)
F Corey Hertzog (11/19/12 – option declined)
M Jan Gunnar Solli (11/19/12 – option declined)
M Teemu Tainio (11/19/12 – option declined)
D Jonathan Borrajo (11/19/12 – option declined)
D Stephen Keel (11/19/12 – option declined)
D Tyler Ruthven (11/19/12 – option declined)
GK Bill Gaudette (11/19/12 – option declined)
GK Jeremy Vuolo (11/19/12 – option declined)
F/M Sébastien Le Toux (12/6/12 – traded to Philadelphia)
D Rafa Márquez (12/13/12 – released)
M Victor Pálsson (1/4/13 – contract terminated)
M Joel Lindpere (1/4/13 – trade to Chicago)
D Wilman Conde (1/23/13 – contract terminated)
F Kenny Cooper (2/4/13 – trade to FC Dallas)[/twocol_one_last]
Key Questions for 2013
1. Will Petke actually use his bench? I think one of the first questions many ask when looking at the Red Bulls now compared to last year with Hans Backe. It is tough to tell after a couple preseason games when many players are getting looked at but my gut tells me that Petke manages the game drastically different than Backe ever did while he was in New York. The depth is actually there with this squad and with players wanting to step up more (the talk there this offseason has been very positive on this), I believe we’ll see more position battles which will get Petke to use his bench more. Now saying that I don’t see him using all three subs every game (no manager does that to be fair) but I do see him taking more risks with his bench and injecting life into his lineup when he sees fit.
2. Is all this turnover a bad thing? I’ve talked a bunch with other team previews about the amount of turnover on the roster from year to year. Typically teams that do well see little turnover or the turnover that they do have is limited in shedding some salary or improving their depth. Looking at what all the Red Bulls have done this winter, one has to be concerned about the large amount of turnover.
But for me, the Red Bulls will be fine. Sure they will experience some bumps along the way with a new manager but getting rid of some dead weight all over the roster was a good thing. They’ve opened up space in their salary cap for one thing and having that third DP slot will be big for them later this summer.
3. Can Juninho thrive in MLS? This may be one of the bigger questions I have. I loved the move to get the veteran midfielder. I loved the move even more when it was released that he was not going to be the Red Bulls’ third DP. We know he is capable of doing big things but he is older than most players in MLS which does have me worried a bit. As long as guys like Dax McCarty give him the room to work in the midfield and keep the pressure off him to track back in defense, this guy will do great things for Thierry Henry and company. But if somehow McCarty is out for a long spell of games, look for him to struggle a bit with the physical play in MLS.
Breakout Player for 2013
Conor Lade – It is a bit difficult to pick out a young guy that will continue to improve like Lade likely will this season. New York has the pieces already intact that will do well but look for Lade to continue his improvement on the field in year two and potentially be a very underrated piece to their success.
Predictions for 2013
- New York will be in the thick of things all season. I’m not calling for a Supporter’s Shield run just yet but I do think we’ll see the Red Bulls near the top of the Eastern Conference for the majority of the season. For some reason I think things just click this season in the Big Apple.
- The third DP signing this summer will boost the attack. Henry will be fine. Juninho will do his thing. And Tim Cahill will be better this season. But saying all of that the Red Bulls still need one more attacking piece in my mind and they’ll land one this summer.