July 14, 2012
ANALYZING THE DEAL
What the trade tells us about the Red Bulls
By Kristian R. Dyer
|The Sebastien Le Toux trade, which sent Dane Richards to the Vancouver Whitecaps, says a lot about the Red Bulls.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
BigAppleSoccer.com Contributing Editor
Call it a brilliant move to enhance the team or a desperate roll of the dice to win now, the Red Bulls trade for Sebastian Le Toux on Friday night indicates that this is a team that feels it lacks the scoring punch to reach MLS Cup.
Dealing Dane Richards to get Le Toux is heartbreaking as the Jamaican international was the longest tenured player on the team and while his form at times was baffling, he did have his moments of brilliance with the club. In Le Toux, New York adds a player who is Best XI caliber and can not only finish in the final third but can also create for others.
On paper, he seems like the type of player who can partner with either Thierry Henry or Kenny Cooper up top or drop into the midfield in a more attacking role in a pinch. But this move tells us a lot about the Red Bulls and where they see themselves right now as a team:
Rodgers is a longshot
A trade that brings in a player like Le Toux likely signals that Luke Rodgers, who scored nine goals in his first season in MLS last year, likely wonít be back. Rodgers has failed to get his visa for re-entry into the country and with each passing week, the Red Bulls became more desperate to find a third forward to add to their rotation. This move signals that Rodgers likely wonít be an option for this year although general manager and sporting director Erik Soler said on Friday that the club wonít stop pursuing him for 2013.
Henry wonít play every game
At 34-years-old, it would be hard to imagine that Designated Player and team captain Thierry Henry could play every game if healthy. Factor in artificial surfaces, long flights, chronic Achilles problems along with calf and hamstring injuries this year and it is very clear from the last six weeks that Henry canít play every game. Trading Juan Agudelo earlier this season hurt the teamís depth at forward. LeToux brings a high quality attacker into the mix. It also means that Henry wonít have to play on the dreaded turf this season as coach Hans Backe can start the Doppleganger duo of LeToux and Cooper.
The Solli experiment is over
No, that doesnít mean that Jan Gunnar Solli is off the team, but the experiment of playing him at right back is finished. The team has to gamble that Brandon Barklage is the real deal Ė he sure looks that way Ė and that Solli can again transition to the midfield and replace Richards on the flanks. Solli was never really comfortable at right back and in the midfield, his hard running and decent crossing ability can be utilized more. Also, donít be surprised to see Dax McCarty and Mehdi Ballouchy get some time on the wing with Richards out of the picture. Richards wasnít stellar this season like he was the past two years and perhaps a different look with Solli or McCarty will energize the team. Perhaps.
Just win baby
Like the bold move to trade for Dwayne De Rosario last year, the swoop for Le Toux shows that Red Bulls brass is feeling the pressure to get some results. This isnít exactly a team built for the future and they have maybe a window of two more years to win. Le Toux is a veteran and proven in MLS and he too might well want a bigger salary then his current base salary of $145,000, meaning he might be eyeing a raise. A team that looks likely to be in cap hell next year might be renting his services for just a year to make a run at the MLS Cup. Read into it what you will, but the Red Bulls needed to make a move like this to challenge the top tier MLS clubs for the Supporters Shield and the cup. The pressure is clearly on management to bring home some hardware.
Follow Kristian R. Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer