The Red Bulls cleaned house on Thursday, shipping midfielder Dema Kovalenko to Real Salt Lake and waiving Liberian forward Francis Doe.
James Edward of the Deseret Morning News reported on Thursday evening that Kovalenko was traded to RSL for an undisclosed 2010 draft pick. Team officials would not confirm the trade of Kovalenko, who was not at the team’s practice at the Giants Stadium practice bubble on Thursday. Doe was not at practice on Thursday either.
If the trade is complete, Kovalenko’s departure had as much to do with salary cap issues as with his performance in pre-season. According to team sources, Juan Carlos Osorio made the decision to keep Seth Stammler and deal Kovalenko, who made close to $200,000 in 2007. The Red Bulls see Stammler, Claudio Reyna and rookie Luke Sassano filling the defensive/holding midfield roles while an unidentified transfer target is expected to fill the starting attacking midfielder role with Reyna serving as his back-up.
Whether it was RSL or some other club, the Red Bulls had every intention of trading Kovalenko before the start of the season. The Red Bulls had offered Kovalenko as part of a trade offer to the Chicago Fire for disgruntled defender Wilman Conde but that deal was rejected.
Doe’s departure helps reduce the numbers in a congested stable of forwards that includes Juan Pablo Angel, Jozy Altidore, Oscar Echeverry, John Wolyniec, Jerrod Laventure and trialists Ricky Schramm and Chris Megaloudis. Doe had endured a disappointing preseason and did little to impress Red Bulls coach Juan Carlos Osorio, who tried to trade Doe before being forced to release him.
The moves free up a considerable amount of cap room the Red Bulls are expected to use on as many as three players the club is trying to sign. The Red Bulls are in search of a central defender, left winger and playmaking midfielder, with attacking midfielder the position the mostly to be filled before the April 15 MLS transfer window deadline.
Kovalenko gives Real Salt Lake a tough and experienced defensive midfield option who should step in and start either as a second defensive midfielder next to Kyle Beckerman in a 3-5-2 or as a right winger in a 4-4-2. It remains unclear whether he will renegotiate his salary to play for RSL.
What does the Kovalenko deal mean for the club’s chances of acquiring Conde? Not much. Chicago did not express much interest in Kovalenko and appear determined to try to hold on to Conde.
So who might be next to go? Wing midfielder Dave Van Den Bergh is a strong candidate to be traded or waived in the coming weeks.
In other Red Bulls news, rookie left winger David Roth will miss three to four months after surgery to repair a knee injury suffered in last week’s match against Hammarby.
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