January 4, 2013
OFF TO THE WINDY CITY
Red Bulls trade Lindpere to the Fire for an international player slot
By Michael Lewis
|Joel Lindpere played with the Red Bulls for three seasons.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
The Red Bulls continued their off-season housecleaning Friday night by sending popular and hard-working midfielder Joel Lindpere to the Chicago Fire for an international player slot on their roster.
The team needed to trade the Estonian international, whose salary would rise to more than $200,000 for the 2013 season. He earned $170,000 base salary and $195,000 guaranteed salary last season, according to the MLS Players Union.
The deal ended the three-year tenure of Lindpere, who forged a reputation as one of the hardest working Red Bulls. After two excellent seasons with the team, Lindpere's play slipped a bit in 2012, but still exhibited a second-to-none work ethic.
“Moving to Chicago will hopefully provide Joel with consistent playing time,” Red Bulls sporting director Andy Roxburgh said in a statement. “We want to thank Joel for his time with our club and wish him the best of luck in the next stage of his career.”
The Fire hoped that Lindpere can rediscover the magic that made him one of the best left-sided midfielders in Major League Soccer. Still, Lindpere wanted to play in a central role, which he will apparently get in Chicago.
"Joel is a versatile, dependable player that has proven himself in MLS,” Fire president of soccer operations Javier Leon said in a statement. “He will provide a dynamic presence to our team in 2013 as we look to return to the MLS Cup playoffs.”
Always a presence on the left side of midfield, the 31-year-old Lindpere recorded 15 goals and 18 assists in 97 games. He was voted the team's MVP in 2010 off a three-goal, six-assist performance. Lindpere also has the distinction of being the first player to score a goal at Red Bull Arena, recording the milestone in an international friendly against Santos (Brazil) on March 20, 2010.
Lindpere was even better in 2011, striking for seven goal and seven assists, the latter a team high.
During the 2011 season, the 5-10, 163-lb. Lindpere lamented the lack of team play.
"Game day should be like a party," he said in June 2011. "I want to have fun. I play; I want to smile on the field. It’s not fun anymore."
Lindpere said that every player should look at his himself in the mirror.
"I am going to look at myself," he said. "I hope my teammates look at themselves too so we play more as a team. We just need to do a better job.
"Everyone on our team needs to think about what we should do and how we should play better.
"I think everyone understands now that we cannot go on like this. We score one, but we give goals back. They get very stupid, easy goals against us, and then we fight to get the goals back. Then we do something stupid again."
He experienced a frustrating 2012 season with the Red Bulls as his play and production fell off (five goals, five assists). He wound up playing in all 34 games, but started the fewest in his three-year Red Bull career (26).
Lindpere's departure leaves Costa Rican left back Roy Miller as the Red Bull with the longest tenure with the team. He joined the team in January 2010. The only other player from the 2010 side still with the team is captain and striker Thierry Henry.