May 13, 2012
If he is guilty, the Red Bulls should show Conde the door
By Michael Lewis
The Wilman Conde incident is disturbing for many reasons -- for bad judgment, for pushing a police officer (definitely a no no) and for getting intoxicated when he should be concerned about getting fit and finally play against for the Red Bulls.
If, he is guilty of the charges, the Red Bulls should deal with the Colombian central defender swiftly and harshly.
On Saturday morning, the 29-year-old Conde was arrested for aggravated assault on a Fort Lee, N.J. police officer. He was released on his own recognizance pending a court date.
He is the first player in the club's 17-year history to have been arrested by police. I certainly don't remember another player who had.
Conde has given himself, the team and the league a black eye.
Conde' arrest was probably the biggest local news story for the team on local TV since Thierry Henry and Rafa Marquez (his police blotter actually happens on the field, like it or not) signed with the club during the summer of 2010.
On WNBC on Saturday night, Conde's arrest was one of the opening teasers to the 11 p.m. broadcast. Outside of winning championships and signing big-name players, sports should be at the bottom half-hour of news telecasts.
The Colombian has a lot of explaining to do -- to Major League Soccer, with which he signed a contract, and of course, the Red Bulls, his teammates, the fans and the media.
He hasn't played in almost a month since injurying his groin in mid-April.
The fact that Conde was intoxicated, according to Fort Lee, N.J. police reports, brings up another bunch of questions: does he do this frequently and does he have a drinking problem?
Who knows? Perhaps this will be a good excuse for Red Bulls general manager and sporting director Erik Soler to cut ties with the veteran central defender, who has watched games more from the stands on TV than play on field. Given the team's shaky defense this season -- not withstanding the recent three consecutive 1-0 wins -- the team's No. 1 priority during the summer transfer window should be to find a central defender who is healthy, can play well and doesn't get into off-field incidents.
If Conde is found guilty, the Red Bulls should show him the door.
Going through life as an intoxicated and injury-prone soccer player who gets into altercations with law enforcement officials is not needed by any team in any sport and is the last thing the Red Bulls need.