January 21, 2013
DP NOT IN NAME, BUT IN STATURE
But Juninho gives Red Bulls that type of quality, Roxburgh says
By Michael Lewis
Juninho isn't a designated player, but that doesn't matter one iota to Andy Roxburgh.
The Red Bulls sporting director talked about the veteran Brazilian midfielder as though he was one on Monday.
"He is like one. We definitely got one," Roxburgh said during a conference call. "But he [doesn't have] that sort of label on him."
Roxburgh later added: "He is part of our roster as a standard player, which is bit of a great bonus for us."
Of course, standard never would be the best way to describe Juninho, who turns 38 on Jan. 30, and his ability to take free kicks.
"Juninho played 50 games in a row in the Brazilian First Division," Roxburgh said. "He's in great condition. He's a great athlete. He almost defies age. And he's a top, top player.
"He's a very humble, hard working lad. He brings a quality to us. And this is apart from the free kick expertise -- he's one of of the best on the planet -- when it comes to taking set plays. He's also a very creative player. He is a very important player to add to our roster."
Roxburgh said Juninho joined the Red Bulls "because we sold him the idea that this was an interesting franchise to be part of and that the MLS would be a wonderful experience for him. He was very happy with all of that. It was also the family side of it, lifestyle element. Juninho has come here, you could say, to invest in MLS."
With Rafa Marquez' departure for Leon in the Mexican First Division, the Red Bulls have three DPs -- striker Thierry Henry and midfielder Tim Cahill -- so there is room for one more.
New York hasn't said when it will add the third.
"Of course, all options are open to add a designated player," Roxburgh said. "Whether we do it right now or not, that's the discussion. Whether we hold off and do it at the middle of the season, come June or July, that is also possible. We leave our options open on it."
Roxburgh was enthused about the Red Bulls' midfield.
"When you think of people like Dax McCarty on the other hand, an American lad who has done really well for this squad here, what we're starting to look at it is an interesting balance," he said. "Tim Cahill is a different type of player from either of those. Slowly but surely its coming together here."