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RBNY Transfer News: NY Red Bulls Sign Wilman Conde
Casual New York Red Bulls fans who haven't been following the team's transactions during the current Major League Soccer offseason are going to be more than a bit confused about the team's back line this spring.
The Red Bulls announced on Monday that they have obtained the right of first refusal for defender Wilman Conde from the Chicago Fire. The story found on the RBNY website states that the Fire received allocation money in the deal, and Dave Martinez of the Empire of Soccer website claims that the money was in the "six figure range." Conde will officially join the squad once the Red Bulls receive his International Transfer Certificate.
Conde is no stranger to MLS play. He was with the Chicago Fire from 2007-2010, earning All Star honors and two occasions. He was also named to the 2009 MLS Best XI. Most recently, Conde played for Mexican First Division side Atlas de Guadalajara. He will be 30-years old in late August.
The RBNY website story quoted general manager/sporting director Erik Soler as saying "one of our offseason priorities was to solidify our defense, and adding Wilman certainly does that. During his stint in Major League Soccer, Wilman quickly established himself as one of the league's top defenders and he will play an immediate role in our back line. He is strong, physical and experienced and he will be a tremendous addition to our club."
The New York defense that struggled throughout the "winless summer" of 2011 is now but a memory. Carlos Mendes, the franchise's final link to the MetroStars, joined MLS side Columbus Crew via the Re-Entry Draft. The much-maligned Rafael Marquez made a move to midfield during the club's pursuit of a playoff berth last fall, and head coach Hans Backe has told reporters this January that Marquez will again play in the New York midfield this spring. 2010 MLS Rookie of the Year candidate Tim Ream, thought last spring to be one of the country's best young defenders, completed a much-anticipated move to EPL side Bolton last week. Ream replaces Gary Cahill, who joined Chelsea earlier in January.
Conde will, once all of the paperwork is finalized, be the third new defender to join the Red Bulls since the club was ousted of the 2011 MLS Playoffs by eventual champs LA Galaxy. Jonathan Borrajo, Markus Holgersson and Connor Lade have all signed deals over the past couple of months. New York are also guaranteed to have a new starting goalkeeper this March. Frank Rost and Bouna Coundoul are both no longer with the club. As replacements, the Red Bulls have thus far acquired Ryan Meara (2012 MLS SuperDraft) and Jeremy Vuolo.
Many Red Bulls fans posting on social networking websites regarding the signing were less-than-pleased. The fact is the club had a gap to fill, and they've done so in a big way without breaking the bank. Ream was never a real option for New York following the 2011 campaign. Truth be told, he probably would have left last August had he been able to make the final decision regarding the matter. Not only is Conde a solid defender, but he's also an option on set pieces, another area where the Red Bulls desperately need help. Conde is in no way a lone savior for the 2012 Red Bulls. On the surface, however, I see little to be upset about regarding the signing.
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