Photo by Andy Mead/YCJ Photos
A central defender drafted by New York with a second round pick will be taking the field this week when the New York Red Bulls begin training for rookies and non-roster invitees, but it won't be the player you were expecting.
Babajide Ogunbiyi, the No. 18 pick in last week's 2009 MLS Draft, is returning to Santa Clara to finish school and won't join the Red Bulls for pre-season until March at the earliest. According to Ogunbiyi's agent, Patrick McCabe, MLS failed to offer Ogunibiyi a contract before the MLS Draft so he will now complete his studies before joining the Red Bulls and discussing a contract in March.
So what second-rounder will be in Red Bulls training camp? Eric Brunner, the No. 16 player taken in the 2008 MLS Draft, will be joining the Red Bulls for training this week with an eye toward possibly re-signing with the club he left last spring after rejecting a paycut.
Currently under contract to Miami FC of USL-1, Brunner could rejoin the Red Bulls for the 2009 season if the club agrees to pay what one source called a "modest fee" to Miami for Brunner's rights.
Ogunbiyi and Brunner could both challenge for playing time on a Red Bulls squad that lost central defenders Jeff Parke, Gabriel Cichero and Diego Jimenez from last year's team (while adding veteran Mike Petke in the process).
What is my take? MLS definitely dropped the ball in not offering a contract to Ogunbiyi, who was easily one of the most impressive players at the MLS Combine. A 6-foot-4, 212 pound mountain of a central defender, Ogunbiyi is now a free agent and could theoretically go abroad if he chose to. As for Brunner, a year playing in USL-1 could only have helped his development and chances of contributing to the Red Bulls this season.
What do you think of these developments? Share your thoughts below.