The New York Red Bulls have won four consecutive Major League Soccer matches, and they're currently atop the eastern conference standings. It appears that's not enough for general manager/sporting director Erik Soler and head coach Hans Backe, as New York surprised many fans on Thursday by trading away a young goal scorer who probably won't mind a change of scenery and additional playing time.
Sources such as Brian Lewis of the NY Post are reporting that the Red Bulls have sent 19-year old forward Juan Agudelo to Chivas USA for defender Heath Pearce. New York will also receive allocation money, along with what Lewis referred to as a "significant portion" of any sell fee if Chivas eventually sell Agudelo. Chivas will also pay a portion of Pearce's 2012 salary.
After showing much promise at the start of his RBNY career, Agudelo has been unable to earn playing time with the club over the past year. Agudelo didn't mesh up top with captain Thierry Henry last spring, and he was replaced in the team's starting lineup by eventual fan favorite Luke Rodgers. Agudelo was again given a chance to shine in the team's starting lineup in the 2012 MLS season opener, but he again failed to impress. This time around, Agudelo was replaced by Kenny Cooper, and Cooper has been one of the best attacking options in the league throughout the first two months of the campaign.
The fact that the Red Bulls chose to move Agudelo when they did is interesting for several reasons. It was heavily rumored throughout the winter that at least two foreign teams wanted to acquire Agudelo, and he was also linked with potential loans to EPL sides. Instead, the Red Bulls have now kept Agudelo in MLS for the time being, sending him out west to a Chivas team that New York will be hosting on May 23. Former Red Bulls star Juan Pablo Angel also plays for Chivas, but he has recently been the subject of several trade rumors.
The Red Bulls are also light on attacking options heading into this weekend's away game against Montreal Impact, as captain Thierry Henry remains sidelined due to a bum hamstring. Mehdi Ballouchy, who has done well to push forward and provide Cooper with assistance since Henry's injury, won't be available on Saturday due to visa issues. While a potential Luke Rodgers return this summer (nothing confirmed as of the posting of this piece) could leave fans quickly forgetting about Agudelo, New York could find themselves wishing they would have waited a few extra days to make the move come late Saturday night.
The acquisition of 27-year old Heath Pearce is nothing but good news for a Red Bulls side that, outside of a handful of games, has featured a makeshift back line that has been guilty of far too many mistakes this season. Pearce, who has earned 35 caps with the US Men's National Team, arguably becomes New York's best overall defender once he officially joins the team, a player who can feature anywhere in the back line. Pearce has looked at his best when playing at LB or CB. Recently arrested CB Wilman Conde, who has only played in two games this season due to injuries, may not be fully fit until after the May 23 contest.
It seems likely that a Red Bulls front office that now has a little extra money isn't yet done making moves. Teemu Tainio, possibly New York's best midfielder and most important player when healthy and on the pitch, will be sidelined for at least two more months because of a knee injury. Backe told reporters on Thursday that Tainio may eventually be forced to retire due to injuries. While New York have played well as of late, bolstering their midfield and back line could mean the difference between just finishing the season in the top five of the overall league standings and finally winning an MLS Cup.
Trading for Kenny Cooper on 2012 MLS SuperDraft day. Selecting ROTY candidate goalkeeper Ryan Meara in the draft. Acquiring an extremely talented starting defender AND money for a forward who is currently behind two others in the squad. Erik Soler and the New York front office may drive supporters crazy, but you can't fault them for much as June 2012 approaches.
- Sports & Recreation
- New York Red Bulls
- Juan Agudelo
- Heath Pearce
- Thierry Henry
- New York