Six Players, Six Problems: Issues To Ponder Over Red Bull Roster Cuts

As if the regular season wasn’t bad enough, the offseason hasn’t been any kinder to the New York Red Bulls. From Hans Backe’s revelation that he was surprised by the fact that the Gold Cup tournament was taking place this season, to the announcement by Erik Soler that the team will look to retain the services of Brian Nielsen, recent news has been of the head scratching variety, and that is putting it mildly.

However, Wednesday’s roster cuts would seem to be quite sensible. Fifteen Red Bulls were mercilessly placed on the expansion draft just hours before Thanksgiving as the Montreal Impact began to assemble it’s roster for the 2012 season. With only ten selections to be had, the Impact skipped on all Red Bull options. Though the New York players survived a trip to the Great White North, six of them would find themselves on the jobless market instead.

John Rooney, Alex Horwath, Mike Jones, Marcos Paullo, Tyler Lassiter and Theodore (Teddy) Schneider
were all cut loose. Of the six, only three – Alex Horwath, Mike Jones and John Rooney – saw regular season playing time.

Though hardly a catastrophic occurrence, the release of these players – and their inability to contribute to the teams season – calls to question more issues with a season that was full of them. Here is a smattering for you to consider:

1) JOHN ROONEY: WHAT WAS THE POINT?

The great debate after the 2011 Super Draft circled around one man; John Rooney. The younger brother to Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney was a surprise pick up for the Red Bulls. Some saw potential for the Englishman to grow outside of his brother’s shadow; others simply thought the move was a publicity stunt to grab some attention to the New York Red Bull’s upcoming campaign.

Either way, the biggest contribution Rooney would have was scoring the winning goal in a throwaway U.S. Open Cup tournament against F.C. New York. The goal did little to earn the man playing time, but that was status quo for any young player trying to find minutes on the pitch this season.

In the end, one has to wonder what was the point of the entire ordeal? How did Rooney add to the long term plans of this team? It may seem that the answer was much more complicated than that. After his release, SBI honcho and Fox Soccer reporter Ives Galarcep revealed this little tidbit over twitter that may answer the question: “Among players waived in MLS was John Rooney, who I’ve been told was only drafted by RBNY as a favor 2 MLS, which feared he’d go undrafted.”

Such hearsay would normally cause a firestorm in any other sports league worldwide, but in Major League Soccer, this seems par for the course.

2) TYLER LASSITER: REAM POTENTIAL?

Tyler Lassiter. This is the player whom Hans Backe infamously declared was well ahead of the developmental pace of Tim Ream at the same point in their careers. Nevertheless, that proclamation did little to find the center back prospect any time on the pitch, which is funny, since this season was all about finding answers on the defensive side.

Lassiter was loaned out to the Carolina Railhawks of the USL where he flourished with the side en route to a first place finish in their division. Today he finds himself a man without a home, and another question mark in a MetroBull history littered with them. What happened to that potential? Where was the opportunity for anyone to find out? Not in New York, that is for sure.

3) 2011 DRAFT: ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF WASTED YOUTH

In total, 2011, from the draft to the seasons final game, was an outward demonstration of how little stock Hans Backe and this regime put into youth development. The 2010 cultivation of Tim Ream would have made such a statement blasphemy mere months prior, but the proof is there for all to see.

Of the four draft picks from the 2011 draft, only Corey Hertzog has managed to stick with the club, and that may very well have to do with his Generation Adidas status, which makes him a commodity in the rigorous MLS salary cap structure. Except for Tim Ream, 2010 draftees have all been shown the door, including Austin da Luz, whom filled in admirably when the oft depth challenged Red Bulls needed him to.

With New York holding only a second round pick in the 2012 Super Draft thanks to various trades that have whittled down their options, you can expect that status quo to continue come next season.

4) 82K FOR WHAT?

What was the point of having Marcos Paullo on the team? For a player that was heavily hyped by the teams coaches and managers, he didn’t manage to make any kind of impact on the team whatsoever. What he did do was take up an international slot and 82k in guaranteed money in an already tight salary cap.

In any other league, 82k can be written off as just another expense, but in MLS, that is money a potential starter can earn. What did the Red Bulls get for their investment? A player that kept the bench warm.

5) AUSTIN DA LUZ

If none of these players figured into the seasons plans, why do away with one that managed to show potential? Clearly, certain salary restrictions were in play, but with all the potential talent available (i.e. Tyler Lassiter), was he the smartest choice to let go? Granted, he didn’t light the world on fire with D.C. United since the trade, but he surely would have been a viable option for tired veterans down the stretch, including a trudging Joel Lindpere.

6) AN AGING ROSTER JUST GOT OLDER

This is not to say that the released players would have made an impact anyway, but let’s face it; the Red Bulls are no spring chickens. Of the 24 players remaining on the side, only seven are under the age of 25. Of the seven, only three (Tim Ream, Juan Agudelo and Dax McCarty) saw regular minutes during the season while Matt Kassel, Sacir Hot and Corey Hertzog struggled to make their way into a match.

Brian Nielsen, who is being pursued by Red Bull management for next season, has been with the team since 2010 and featured in a three paltry regular season games during that span.

  • Dave Johnson

    I am thankful this season is over. Happy Turkey Day!

  • Larry

    What a Joke, nice Job Francisco!

    DMart: I love the Brian Ching situation. I love what Montreal did, love it. Who is Brian Ching to tell them he won’t play anywhere else. BC should have told I will play anywhere else but Houston. Houston, nice job, now go and buy back BC and meanwhile, drop them a first rounder for 2013 too. Still not as bad as NYRB management though.

    • Mr. Downtown

      Larry there’s more to the Brian Ching situation than meets the eye. I think we’ll find out in coming months what Montreal’s true motivation was. I expect Ching to be in orange at the opening of the ’12 season.

      I think RBNY need a new general manager and a new coach. Their front office decisions the past couple of years have been questionable at best and this article illustrates the futility of their young player development.

      • Larry

        I know what Montreal’s motivation was, get Ching because he’s worth something, trade him or have another team buy him, he’s currency. Montreal will get a nice piece of change for BC. Hey, maybe Houston will buy him back, but it will be for 6 digits and a bucket.

  • Ferris

    Lassiter was only counting 30k against the cap – head scratching that New York had no use for him with 30 roster spots to fill for next season. Once again, it’s probably for the best New York won’t be bothering with CONCACAF Chanpions League play in 2012.

    It seems on one hand like Soler is trying to build the team now exclusively for short term success. On the other, roster spots are limited. And if a player isn’t going to work his way into the first eighteen, it’s in everyone’s best interest to move on.

    This will be just the beginning in a flurry of off season moves for New York, with definitely new arrivals and possibly more departures still to come.