Good evening folks. I made my way to Giants Stadium this morning and the action at the second day of Red Bulls mini-camp was only slightly better than the first. The best part of the day was the fact that I was the only media member there. It was just me, Red Bulls staff and prospects and about a dozen would-be agents, most of whom sported dark coats (apparently this is the official uniform of agents who rep non-roster invitees). The best scene of the day was watching the agents circle Red Bulls coach Juan Carlos Osorio after practice. It was like a shark frenzy and Osorio was the bait.
There were some players who stood out on Wednesday and some who probably won’t be invited back for Thursday’s sessions (the club will cut down the numbers and include its regular draft picks in Thursday’s practice).
Here are some of the players who did well today:
Martin Nunez– This kid has tons of skill, but he is tiny (a skinny 5-7?) and I can’t help but wonder if he could really handle the rigors of the MLS game. He showed well, passing well and taking defenders on, as well as showing an impressive shot for his size (if Dane Richards had this kid’s shot he might be in the EPL). I’m sure Nunez will be back on Thursday but whether he gets the big invite to California remains to be seen.
Matt Kassel- Yep, he still looks legit and right now I would put the odds of him going with the Red Bulls to California at very good. It will be very interesting to see how he stacks up playing with and against first-team players.
Teddy Niziolek– Combining size (6-foot-3) with good ball skils and positional sense, Niziolek showed much better today than yesterday. Here’s the issue. He played defensive midfield in college but projects to be a central defender as a pro. The Red Bulls currently have Jeff Parke, Seth Stammler, Carlos Mendes and Eric Brunner as central defense options with Osorio desperate to find a left-footed defender capable of playing left back and center back. That doesn’t leave much room for Niziolek, especially not when it appears that Columbus’ demands for his rights haven’t gone down that much.
Marshall Leonard- There is little mistaking the only player in mini-camp with real MLS experience. Leonard is polished. The wheels are there, though I wonder if his passing is up to Juan Carlos Osorio’s standards. He did have one great goal off a long-range blast. As a left back in a 4-4-2 and wing midfielder in a 3-5-2, I think he gets the job done.
Christian Camacho– I like this kid’s game. He’s strong as heck on the ball and passes well. He, like some others, can get a little dribble happy but today there was less of that (perhaps Osorio spoke to him about that). I could see this kid in MLS.
Tighe Dombrowski– Steady day for him, never looked troubled by much but I am beginning to wonder about his size and whether he fits Osorio’s preference. Is he the tenacious defensive midfielder Osorio wants to pair Claudio Reyna with? Is he a left back option? Jeff Agoos is a fan though so I think he will get an extended look and Cali invite.
Ricky Schramm– Good size-speed combo as a forward, looked sharp today. Is he good enough to make the roster? With Juan Pablo Angel, Jozy Altidore, John Wolyniec, Francis Doe and Jerrod Laventure on the roster, I’m going to say the odds are stacked against him. He still may get a Cali invite.
Chris Megaloudis and Abimbola Pedro played well as forwards, knocking in multiple goals, but I’m not sure either of them gets an invite to California. Maybe one of them does but I would say it’s a long shot at this point. Megaloudis is a good finisher and showed good quickness while Pedro held the ball well and passed well as a big forward. I just don’t think either would make the Red Bulls.
Some players sat due to knocks, such as Michael Palacio and Laurent Manuel.
Thursday is shaping up to be a good day of training, with MLS Draft picks Eric Brunner, Luke Sassano and David Roth taking part.