A Look At The Red Bulls Ahead The Of The Expansion Draft

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

There is a lot you can learn about the New York Red Bulls direction heading into Wednesday’s expansion draft.

First, take a look at the protected and unprotected players and you will see there is a spine in place for the future.  These are the players head coach Mike Petke will build around for 2015.  From front to back, Bradley Wright-Phillips, Lloyd Sam, Dax McCarty, Eric Alexander, Jamison Olave, Roy Miller and Luis Robles were key elements to the Red Bulls success this year, and form the building blocks for the coming campaign.

Another key element is youth, and by all accounts, that is who the Red Bulls hope to serve in 2015.  The majority of players left unprotected are over the age of 28, including the likes of Tim Cahill, Bobby Convey, Kosuke Kimura, Armando Lozano, Peguy Luyindula, Damien Perrinelle, Ibrahim Sekaga and Saer Sene.  Juxtapose that to the protected players, which are littered with youth options and bedrock contributors.  Ambroise Oyongo and Chris Duvall will be given another season to fight for their spots.  Despite injuries, Ian Christianson will be given another campaign to show his worth as well.

Breaking down the availability of players even further,  Cahill is perhaps the best known and most accomplished option of all available players league wide heading into this draft.  However, New York’s willingness to dangle him in front of the New York City and Orlando highlights what has been a contentious relationship between club and player.  While arguably the most impactful contributor for New York in their 2013 Supporters’ Shield run, Cahill had a drop in form and a clash of ideals with management.  No, he won’t likely be picked up by either side — mainly due to salary concerns.  However, his availability is a tell-tale sign that the friction still exists.

Then, there is Luyindula; an unprotected player that has surprised even the most ardent Red Bull followers.  For two straight seasons, the Frenchman has contributed greatly to New York’s post season runs.  He is a likeable locker room figure, a solid contributor — and an affordable option considering his resume and accomplishments.  Again, with options like Kaka in Orlando and Frank Lampard in NYCFC, Luyindula would not be able to crack the starting lineup for either side.  However, if his third year salary continues to be as affordable as the first two, he can be a fantastic bench option — as proven in Harrison this year.

Ryan Meara is an interesting option amongst the protected players.  Soccer By Ives tweeted NYCFC’s interest in the Fordham product — a report EoS can independently verify.  Sources also tell us Sporting KC has an interest in the player as well.

Several clubs have had issues between the sticks this year, making the Yonkers native an interesting option as potential trade bait.  His salary is affordable and his demand is high.  Club officials insist they have long term plans for the keeper, but with Robles firmly in control of the starting spot at the young age of 30, Meara’s chance won’t be this season — barring injury of course.  That makes Meara a wonderful and affordable commodity heading into a long offseason.

A maximum of two players may be selected.  When looking at NYCFC, a veteran laden side, several of the Red Bull players do not make practical sense for the club.  At best, Luyindula can make a hearty bench option.  Cahill will not make the best foil to David Villa in the same way he and Thierry Henry failed to click up top (in limited opportunities, of course).  NYCFC will be looking for young contributors who can push for starting spots.  Red Bulls have several talented players available, but few that can fill that role.

For Orlando, they will be searching for veteran talent.  Again, it is a question of whom those veterans will be and how they can fit in.   Cahill does seem a better fit in Orlando, going to a team that can build around his talent up top.  However, the Brazilian ownership is being calculated with their DPs, and it is anyone’s guess whether the Australian legend fits that mold.  Sekagya and Perrinelle are two expensive veteran options on defense, but Orlando is covered well on that end.  Once again, none of New York’s available options fit a need, though an affordable Ruben Bover may make sense here.

By day’s end, New York will likely remain untouched, with Luyindula being the most enticing option to be picked up by either side.  But even if that is the case, a lesson has been learned from the Red Bulls’ draft day decisions — and it is one that gives fans a window into what will come in 2015.

 

 


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    • I did mention him … barely … but he is there!


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