January 8, 2013
MY TWO CENTS
Red Bulls' recent moves do not have a vision
Nick Abbott is a Red Bulls fan
"The opinions reflected in the My Two Cents columns do not express the views of the editors or management of BigAppleSoccer. com"
By Nick Abbott
Special to BigAppleSoccer.com
Joel Lindpere's recent trade to the Chicago Fire is only the latest in what some have dubbed an "offseason overhaul" that the Red Bulls organization is making in the post-Hans Backe era.
Lindpere became the 14th player dealt or released this off-season by the new establishment of Andy Roxburgh and co. However, this deal feels a little different from the rest.
Sure, some fans questioned the trade of a homegrown player for Kosuke Kimura, especially given the strength of other wing backs Connor Lade, Brandon Barklage and Heath Pearce. Teemu Tainio and Jan Gunnar Solli each logged quite a few minutes during their respective three-year stays. And the bigger names of Sebastien Le Toux and Rafa Marquez were let go.
But on the whole, the moves made by the Red Bulls this year have been non-controversial and peripheral to the core of the team. One of the first decisions made by the new administration was to re-sign the aforementioned Lade and Barklage, young players who emerged as future leaders of the team. Stalwarts Dax McCarty and Pearce will be back this season as will international stars Tim Cahill and Thierry Henry.
The Red Bulls organization has simply done away with the fringe, non-essential, or, in the case of Marquez, downright hated players and held onto the players that define the team.
That changed, however, on Friday when Lindpere was dealt away. His minutes dwindled a bit in 2012 but he still was a vital cog out left. When Henry went down with injury in the spring, Lindpere was vital in creating chances and gaining results without the star forward up top. Fans will always remember his first goal against Santos at Red Bull Arena and his crackling goal to start the season of against the very team he was traded to, the Fire. Lindpere showed dedication to the team by declining invites to play for his national team so that he wouldn't miss key games. His tireless work ethic was perhaps best displayed by his go-ahead, scrappy header in stoppage time against the New England Revolution last season
Yet, in an "overhaul," the fact is that some key players do have to go, like Lindpere and perhaps Kenny Cooper and Markus Holgersson not too far in the future. What my problem with this transaction is that there doesn't seem to be a vision for what that future will look like. It is clear that the new brass of Roxburgh, Jereome de Bontin and Gerard Houllier want to dismantle some of the failed elements of the Backe-Erik Soler regime as shown by the release of Solli, Tainio, and Victor Palsson. In terms of acquisitions, Fabian Espindola, Jamison Olave, Josue Martinez, and Juninho Pernambucano left many clueless as to what direction the organization was pursuing.
The Red Bulls must grapple with a few essential questions that will help define the vision for the club in 2013 and beyond before moving forward. How can the team create more freedom for Cahill to move up the pitch and get involved in the attack? How can Juninho's talents be maximized to prevent the failure experienced by similar creative players like Jorge Rojas and Dwayne De Rosario? With Lindpere gone, who will play out wide?
These questions are ones that the organization has not yet answered and frankly that it shouldn't answer until a new coach has been installed. The Red Bulls learned the hard way with the Soler-Backe combination that a dearth of MLS experience and a team of Europeans will not succeed.
The Red Bulls need to get a coach with Major League Soccer experience to answer these questions. The move for Espindola, Olave, and Martinez show a respect for players with MLS but are based on the very limited exposure that Roxburgh, de Bontin and Houllier have.
Steve Nicol, John Spencer and Dave Sarachan, good options to the Red Bulls and, along with the experienced directors from abroad, would be able to provide a clear vision of what the future of the Red Bulls should be.
Only time will tell if Lindpere's departure helps or hurts the team. What time will undoubtedly tell is that a team in disarray as the Red Bulls are presently needs to install a head coach and a subsequent strategy to bring the team and its fans what has been long awaited MLS Cup.
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