Red Bull Notes: Petke talks Convey plans, More from Roxburgh on Henry, DP3, more

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU, EMPIRE OF SOCCER

Rumblings around New York suggested the Red Bulls were looking into acquiring a player last week, but few expected the trade that would bring Bobby Convey to the banks of the Passaic.

In adding the 30-year-old World Cup veteran to their side, New York not only added a distributive threat on the left midfield side, but a versatile player who can fill in defensively as well. That addresses a major need for New York in a year chock-full of competitive fronts.

“Bobby has played that left back position. He scored two goals against us in the playoffs from the left back position to knock us out in San Jose,” Petke recalled. “He’s very versatile in that aspect. He’s a biting player, he likes to get into a tackle, he has quality on the ball and that’s someone that could for sure be used at times at the left back position as well.”

Convey will also serve to push current starter Jonny Steele, whom Petke admits took on little competition at the left wing spot last season.

As some already know, Convey carries with him a difficult reputation stemming from his time at San Jose and, most recently, Toronto. Central to his problems with the Earthquakes was the team’s desire to have him play defense in their system.

Petke, who was teammates with Convey when both featured in D.C., isn’t concerned and knows his lockerroom will nip any issues before they even reach his desk.

“I am not worried about that at all,” he says. “He’s someone that’s seeking a new chance on a team that he feels could be successful and he’s someone that would be willing to play in any role that we ask of him.”

ROXBURGH ROUND-UP

Last week, New York Red Bulls Sporting Director Andy Roxburgh sat down with a select group of local media to discuss the direction of the team. Some of those topics have already been covered right here on EOS, including his scheduled trip this week to Europe with head coach Mike Petke, his thoughts on the sudden emergence of NYCFC and the multi-million dollar expansion of the team’s training facility.

Here are a few more tidbits from the conversation:

– HENRY EXTENSION? WHY NOT?

It’s no secret that Thierry Henry is entering the final year of his contract. Most would assume based on the Frenchman’s own declarations that this would signify the end of the road in his brilliant career (and the fact that he signed on as an analyst for next year’s World Cup for BBC may point to the future he hopes for).

Nevertheless, Roxburgh wouldn’t be against a possible extension for the soon-to-be 37-year-old striker.

“This is the last year of this particular contract, but there’s no reason why he couldn’t extend it,” Roxburgh proclaimed. “Right now, I don’t think he’s thinking like that because when I sat down with him when the season finished, I just asked him straight, ‘So you’re playing next season?’ immediately as soon as I asked, ‘Yes.’

“He said, ‘I’m very optimistic about the way things are going and I want to be involved in it.’ That was enough.

“If he comes away with the same reaction next year, who knows?”

– “SICK” OVER LOSING ESPINDOLA

As first reported by EOS, the New York Red Bulls parted ways with Fabian Espindola, unable to reach a monetary agreement on the coming season.

This gave Roxburgh unpleasant flashbacks of a similar situation at the start of his tenure. Goalscorer Kenny Cooper was another cap casualty that “sickened” the Red Bulls Sporting Director last season.

That feeling resurfaced with the Argentine’s departure.

“You know the way the system works and how complicated it is and the restrictions on you financially,” Roxburgh said. “I’m joking that [Lionel] Messi is not available, but it’s not just Messi; it’s all sorts of talents that you might like to bring that you just can’t afford to bring. Not because the company or the owner wouldn’t give you the money, but because you just aren’t allowed.

“Talking about Argentina, that’s the reason why we couldn’t take up the option on Fabian. I’m sick about that. I was sick when I lost Kenny Cooper and I just arrived. He was labeled as a victim of the salary cap and that’s exactly what’s happened with Fabian.

“I’m absolutely sick because you can’t have three starting front guys whose salaries are at the limit because that’s one-third of your salary just for three players.”

– SALARY WOES

Speaking of the salary cap, Roxburgh was very open about the constriction New York have been forced to deal with this offseason. “We’re doing our absolute utmost to retain as much of the squad as we can, but even that is a nightmare,” Roxburgh explained. “A number of [the players], their numbers are becoming the real numbers this year, like Bradley [Wright-Phillips] was only half a year last time, someone like Eric [Alexander], some of his previous salary was being paid by the previous club, so we’ve got a number of them where their real number comes into play this year.

“To retain them, you’ve got to bite the bullet on that.”

The true numbers are only part of the story. Roxburgh also pointed out how important it is to reward players for their contributions this season while not adding to their cap space woes. That has forced the team to reshuffle their budget ahead of next season.

– DP3

Of course, it wouldn’t be a meeting on the Red Bulls without “DP3″ talks. As always, Roxburgh stuck with the company line; he is looking for the right fit, both on the field and in the locker room.

He did, however, introduce a new, and perhaps more concrete need when it comes to that kind of investment.

“You’ve got to have a space in your roster,” he explained. “Not just a space physically, not just a body space, but you’ve also got the money there.

“Right now, and after what I just said in trying to retain our squad, if we wanted to bring in a DP, we would maybe have to move somebody else out, so that’s a decision that needs to be made.”

“You need the physical space and the financial space.”


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