The New York Red Bulls have fans dreaming of what would be a historic future acquisition after the team's most recent signing.
In a move that really shouldn't surprise those who actively follow the club, the Red Bulls announced on Friday afternoon that they have signed defender Rodrigo Leite, who is commonly known as Digão. Digão recently spent a week training with the team during the FIFA international break, and it had been reported by numerous reliable sources on Thursday evening that he had officially joined RBNY. As usual and per league rules, terms of his deal were not released by the Red Bulls.
What will interest supporters of the club more than if/how Digão will factor in any of New York's September matches is the fact that the 26-year old is the brother of international star Kaka. Kaka, who has three years left on his contract at Real Madrid, was linked with a possible move to the Major League Soccer side earlier in the summer. The immediate thought held by several individuals I spoke with on Thursday evening was that this signing could be nothing more than the Red Bulls courting Kaka.
Such individuals might not be far off. It's hardly a quiet rumor at this point that the much-maligned Rafa Marquez could be leaving the Red Bulls and MLS during the upcoming offseason. That would free up a designated player spot and cash, allowing New York to acquire such a big-name talent. It's also worth noting that Kaka, who currently owns an apartment in NYC, would definitely be the type of attacking midfielder that Red Bulls general manager/sporting director Erik Soler has (reportedly) wanted to acquire for several years.
There's also the fact that the Red Bulls really don't need another center back in mid-September. Even with left back Roy Miller sidelined for a couple of weeks due to a groin injury and Wilman Conde playing at that same position for the team, New York still have starters Heath Pearce and Markus Holgersson at full fitness, as well as Stephen Keel and Tyler Ruthven as available options. The previously mentioned Marquez, who made a move to the midfield in 2012, can also feature at CB.
A lack of consistent play from the team's back line repeatedly burned New York in 2011. Mistakes made by players such as Marquez and former RBNY defender Tim Ream cost the Red Bulls points and more desirable spots in the league standings, and New York ultimately qualified for postseason play as just a Wild Card team. It's possible, I suppose, that Soler and head coach Hans Backe are just not comfortable with all of the team's current CB options.
Where there's smoke, there's probably fire, though, and the Red Bulls have been down this road before. New York acquired John Rooney, Wayne's younger brother, in January 2011. That experiment didn't work out, as his lone memorable moment with the club came during a US Open Cup match that was literally watched by only a few thousand people. Rooney left the Red Bulls after the 2011 campaign.
In a New York supporter's perfect world, Digão will prove to be necessary cover at the back for a side that wins the first MLS Cup in franchise history, and he will then be joined at RBNY by his brother this coming winter. If history has taught us anything, though, it's that good fortune and the Red Bulls are not close friends. Largely because of that fact, I find Friday's announcement to be more interesting than exciting;
at least for now.