The New York Red Bulls’ season left many disappointed, and pointing fingers in many directions.
Some blamed the coach. Others, the roster build. Many fell in the middle. Last offseason, Denis Hamlet sold Tyler Adams, but kept most of the roster intact with minimal additions. Now, coming off a down year, it seems the Red Bulls may be in a position to reinvigorate the squad with multiple new signings. However, before that can be done, the Red Bulls must clear space on the roster.
So what should they do? How ruthless should they be?
Note: This is not a full prediction of what the team will do. Some of it is but some is my opinion on what I would do even if it is less likely the team does it.
Luis Robles: Trade
The Captain had a strong finish to the year and his GSAR above that of a replacement player, however, the question is was he worth the 400k salary he earns. As he continues to get older, the inevitable decline creeps along. With two expansion teams entering, it could be an opportunity to cash in on the Ironman. This may be controversial, but I would cash in and look to bring in Carlos Coronel from Salzburg. Coronel currently starts at Salzburg as the top two goalies nurse injuries, however by January he may be available.
Ryan Meara: Keep
Meara is a solid backup who could compete for the number one job. His salary is not anything out of this world and you could do a lot worse at that spot.
Evan Louro: Keep
Louro showed growth this year with NYRBII, however, he still struggles at times to command his box on corners and crosses. No one currently in the pipeline is better, and as far as third string options go, he is worth keeping on the chance he continues to improve.
Amir Murillo: Cut/Sell
The most polarizing figure on the current roster. Chris Armas essentially said he didn’t trust him, and Kristian Dyer reported on Seeing Red that he had burned a lot of bridges inside the training facility. At this point, it is better for all parties to move on. Murillo has talent however he also has pension to switch off for large portions of games and put in poor efforts defensively. While offensively he can create a defender has to defend first and foremost.
Before I get inundated with responses about his record, his Whoscored rating, or his World Cup past, I’ll break them all down. A record is a poor metric for an individual game. It take away the game’s context and gives credit for all wins and all loses to one player.
Whoscored ratings are nice, but often skew towards offensive contribution, especially for defenders. So, if you are a defender who completes dribbles and take on’s in the final third, your rating will be boosted. Finally, playing in the World Cup is not an indicator of a players ability. Certainly no one is claiming Fidel Escobar, currently playing in the third tier in Spain, should have started over Long or Parker in 2018 despite the fact that he played in more World Cup matches than either of them.
If it is not clear, it’s time to move on from Murillo.
Kyle Duncan: Keep
It is a real shame that Kyle Duncan got hurt in Montreal. He was having a great end to his season, and impressed last season before his knee injury. It’s usually the second season after a knee injury that is a players best. Keep Duncan and give him every chance to lock down the right back spot as his own.
Rece Buckmaster: Keep
Rece is a versatile player who was put in to big spots this year by the coaching staff. His ceiling is probably limited, but as a backup on a minimum contract, he is not a bad option to keep around for another year.
Sean Nealis: Keep
He needs more seasoning and probably pushed to the first team too quickly. As a depth CB, he is a solid option to have. His feet improved over the course of the year, as did his soccer IQ. He can do the job for a spot start here and there.
Amro Tarek: Keep
He stepped in and did a job when Aaron Long went down with injury. He is a very solid MLS backup and no reason to cut him. Perhaps he pushes for starting minutes next season.
Tim Parker: Keep
Tim Parker’s season was poor by all accounts, but he just signed a big contract and is going no where.
Aaron Long: Keep
Unless someone is coming through with a 8+ Million dollar offer, he provides more value as a player than as a sellable asset.
Kemar Lawernce: Keep
He is one of the best left back in the league, and the organization doesn’t have a ready made replacement. You keep him and work to develop John Tolkin. The prospect of European football could tempt Lawrence with a jump to England with Jamaica entering the top 50 in the FIFA Rankings. If the Red Bulls sell Lawrence, a replacement must be brought in. That being said, listing Lawrence on the transfer market is a mistake.
Vincent Bezecourt: Cut
Bezecourt is the ultimate “tweener”. He doesn’t really have a best position, and it has shown this year. During his demotion to NYRBII, he failed to make much of an impact.
Cristian Casseres Jr.: Keep
Casseres became a key part of the starting 11 this year. What also became clear this season, is that the young Venezuelan is more of box to box midfielder than a defensive midfielder. He is a piece to build around, but should not be thought of as a Tyler Adams replacement.
Sean Davis: Keep
Davis probably had his worst season since his rookie year, where he only got about 400 minutes. At times, he looked burnt out, often forced to play as a central defensive midfielder. Like Casseres, he does not suit the role. Davis is still a very solid player, and is, by all accounts, a great locker room presence.
Marcus Epps: Cut
In case you forgot, Epps was a waiver draft selection who eventually was sent on loan to another USL team. USL is his level, no reason to give the experiment another year.
Omir Fernandez: Keep
Fernandez flashed potential this year, but also showed inconsistency at times. If I was in charge, I would have had him with NYRBII the majority of the year. He will get the chance to build on his rookie year in 2020.
Alejandro ‘Kaku’ Romero Gamarra: Keep
It was rocky start for Kaku with transfer rumors and balls kicked into the stands. The transfer didn’t happen, Kaku reset his mentality, and finished the season well. If he didn’t get hurt in Philly, its very possible the Red Bulls win that game. By all accounts, he is happy here. Unless a 10+ million dollar offer comes in you keep Kaku and build around him.
Jean Christophe Koffi: Keep
Koffi looked strong for NYRBII, and improved over the course of the season. He is a ball winning defensive midfielder the first team could use. He is not quite ready to step in and be a star, but he can be a solid depth piece while continuing to get minutes with NYRBII.
Ben Mines: Keep
Mines struggled once again with injuries, which kept him away from playing much this year for any team. However, cutting a homegrown 2 years into a pro career is a bad look, and a premature move. Perhaps the Red Bulls move him to a NYRBII deal.
Alex Muyl: Keep
He is not going to be a star, but as a guy to bring on to kill games, and as depth for cup competitions and injuries, Alex Muyl is solid. You know you will always get hard work and max effort which when pressing is sometimes as important as skill.
Daniel Royer: Keep
Royer was, at times, one of the best players on the Red Bulls this season. His 11 goals and 8 assists are impressive. However, he also had cold periods, and quite a few of his goals were penalties. Royer is a 29-year-old international, and if you want to be drastic you cut him and replace him. I’m keeping him, but I’m not really sure of this decision.
Marc Rzatkowski: Cut
This was a tough one. I really like ‘RZA’, and think he was better than both Davis and Casseres this season. However, he is older than them, and like Bezecourt, is a ‘tweener’ with no true position. If the plan is to build around Davis and Casseres as your 8’s, a 3rd guy in that spot making 300k is too much. Better to spend that money on a true defensive midfielder, and bring up a guy like Chris Lema to provide depth as a hybrid 8/10.
Florian Valot: Keep
He got a green card and doesn’t make a ton. It is worth the risk to bring him back and give him a shot to break through.
Derrick Etienne: Cut
The Haitian international homegrown sent on loan to FC Cincinnati, did not earn a contract with the first year club. At this point it seems unlikely the Red Bulls bring him back.
Bradley Wright Phillips: Cut/Re-sign for real cheap
It’s unfortunate its ending this way but the BWP we saw this year looked like a shell of his former self. He never seemed to recover from his injury but even in the beginning of the year he looked worse. His touch regressed this season and he often looked winded after a few sprints. I’m not convinced he really has anything left to offer a team so reliant on pressing.
Brian White: Keep
White had 9 goals in 20 games and showed he can be a solid MLS striker. Things probably would have been even better for him if he didn’t pick up an ankle injury at the end of the year. White does the dirty work his hold up play is the best on the team.
Tom Barlow: Keep
His play earned him a spot, but I’m not totally sold on him. His hold up play needs improvement. Depending on how the team wants to proceed at the striker position, this keep could turn into a cut.
Mathias Jorgenson: Keep
He has divided opinions because he came on a big transfer, and ended up playing exclusively with NYRBII. There he scored double digit goals, and his growth was evident over the course of the season. The Red Bulls are not going to give up on him after one season, nor should they.
Connor Lade: Retired
Thank you Connor
Josh Sims: Loan expired
In total, between loan, expiration cuts, and retirement, my plan clears 8 spots from the senior roster. If Josh Sims returns, that moves to 7.
Assuming Sims returns, that leaves 12 players on the 20 person senior roster, as they didn’t fill it completely this season. The team also clears 3 internationals, and has 4 spots open to work with. Finally, they would have an open Designated Player slot.
Going forward, the Red Bulls would be able to sign around 5 players to the senior roster, as they would have to move some players up from the reserve roster to make room for homegrown signings.
Ultimately, this is just a fun exercise. I could see myself being very wrong on both the amount of cuts, and who. Send me your cut lists and lets have a friendly debate. Also stay tuned for a NYRBII version as well.