One of the most venerated goalkeepers in Major League Soccer history, Hartman has been without a club since leaving FC Dallas last winter. The move will aid a Red Bulls backline that has been primarily shaky in its opening three matches of the season but adds to the concern over the health of Ryan Meara.
Meara hasn't featured for the Red Bulls since he suffered a hip injury on July 8, and there is speculation that Hartman's addition could signal to further complications in his recovery. A local product drafted in the second round of the 2012 MLS SuperDraft from Fordham University, Meara impressed in his opening 18 matches of his rookie season in 2012 and was a favorite for Rookie of the Year before his injury. Meara told Goal.com that he expected to be back after the opening month of the season during the club's jersey unveiling event earlier in March.
Still, the Red Bulls insist the move isn't only for goalkeeping cover but to instruct young goalkeepers in the team's academy. In addition to being one of the club's goalkeepers, Hartman will also serve as a goalkeeper development manager for the club.
“We would like to welcome Kevin to the Red Bulls,” Red Bulls sporting director Andy Roxburgh said in a written statement. “As one of MLS’ most successful goalkeepers of all time, Kevin brings a wealth of playing experience and the knowledge of what it takes to be successful at the highest level. That’s why we are delighted that Kevin will pass on that knowledge to our next generation of goalkeepers in the role of Goalkeeping Development Manager, while also giving us another quality goalkeeping option as part of our first team roster.”
New York clearly values Hartman's experience and winning track record as a two-time MLS Cup winner. He is the only player in MLS history to play and start more than 400 regular season matches. Hartman spent three seasons with FC Dallas prior to joining New York Last year, Hartman recorded 30 starts and earned six shutouts, adding to his all-time shutout record which currently stands at 112. Hartman also played with the Los Angeles Galaxy where he played a part in winning MLS Cup titles in 2002 and 2005.
Interestingly, Hartman and Red Bulls captain Thierry Henry have some controversial history together. During Henry's first season with New York in 2010, the French striker kicked Hartman on follow up celebration after scoring a goal and the goalkeeper suffered foot and knee injuries. Hartman was in the midst of an MVP caliber season that year and the knocks were perceived to hinder his progress during the remainder of the season.
"I'm pretty bummed about it," Hartman told reporters after that game. "You obviously want to play as much as possible and to have to come out because of an injury that happens pretty much in dead time is disappointing."
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