The New York Red Bulls have officially traded Joel Lindpere to the Chicago Fire for an international slot. The move serves as a glorified salary dump for New York who now free up another $195k under the cap, allowing them to continue their rebuilding efforts.
“Moving to Chicago will hopefully provide Joel with consistent playing time,” said Red Bulls Sporting Director Andy Roxburgh. “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.”
Lindpere was a vital cog on the team through 2011 – a banner year for the winger. He set single season team records in games played (34), games started (34), and minutes played (3,048), having missed all of 12 minutes of regular season action. He led the team in assists (7) and was third on the side with seven goals.
His play earned him 2011 team MVP honors and a new two year deal.
Despite those achievements, the transaction is a welcome departure for both parties involved.
Though Joel Lindpere became an unlikely fan favorite for the team, the relationship between player and club grew less comfortable over time. There was a noticeable dip in the Estonian’s form by the end of last season. Off the field issues began to weigh on the winger and eventually, a contentious relationship with former head coach Hans Backe developed.
After a difficult renegotiation of his contract, Lindpere reportedly felt disappointed with the final deal he was offered. According to sources close to the situation, this sparked the beginning of what would turn out to be a deteriorating relationship between the player and management. Backe and Lindpere butted heads over his international play and in-game use. One source said Lindpere was always “dumbfounded” by the resistance met by the club when he was “given the honor” of representing his national side.
To make matters worse, Backe’s insistence on looking past Lindpere when the team was struggling for midfield options only further strained their relationship. It was no secret; Lindpere wanted a shot to command the attacking midfield slot. By the time he was given the chance, the damage had already been done.
The ill will lingered through most of the season, and at one point, the Estonian hinted to Red Bull brass his desire to be traded. This only further widened the rift. In fact, one source confided Lindpere openly expressed disappoint when midseason rumblings of a trade turned out to be about Dane Richards – and not himself.
His frustrations came to a head in a memorable media meltdown after the team’s playoff crash to DC United last year. An expletive laden rant said it all.
“So changes need to be done, and it’s normal with the Red Bulls,” he said, “there is changes all the time. And I’ve been here for three years and playing (expletive) every game and I haven’t won nothing.”
All in all, Lindpere was right about one thing; changes needed to be done. And both parties likely agreed with that.
Though his last season with the club was sub-par by his own standards, his overall ledger of accomplishments is likely what Red Bull fans will always remember. He featured in 97 matches with the team over the course of three years, assisting on 18 goals while scoring 15 of his own – including the very first goal in Red Bull Arena history. It wasn’t his only historical moment; the Estonian assisted on Thierry Henry’s first goal with the club as well (his debut against Tottenham).
Sources tell us the Chicago Fire intend to use Lindpere centrally which should already buoy the midfielders confidence with the move. As for New York, the pieces continue to be put together without a head coach in place. The international slot garnered will give New York the flexibility to pursue other options, including that of the long rumored Peguy Luyindula who has officially left PSG.
All in all, both parties get what they had hoped for; a clean break and the chance to start over.