It’s been a long time coming but it’s time for another update on the Red Bulls.
The team heads down to South Carolina today ahead of the Charleston Cup. I was able to head down to Red Bulls training on Thursday and here are some tidbits:
Lider Marmol was rehabbing on the side and looked pretty healthy. At least healthier than you would expect someone with a major hamstring injury to be. How healthy? At one point he was juggling a medicine ball, not exactly something you do well if you have a bad hammy.
Marmol appears borderline depressed about his uncertain status with MLS. He clearly wants to sign with the Red Bulls but has accepted the fact that he could wind up with the Chicago Fire.
I asked Juan Carlos Osorio about the fact that the club has yet to announce a major signing this off-season, and whether this was a cause for concern with the season set to start in a month. Osorio stated clearly that he has two international players the club is in position to sign. He also stated that the two players would join the team before the end of the transfer period (which ends April 15). He wouldn’t give names but it is safe to say that one of the players is the attacking midfielder the club is in dire need of.
Osorio is traveling to South America this weekend to look at some more players. He will not be with the Red Bulls for their exhibition match on Saturday.
Mike Magee is enjoying a very strong preseason and could very well have earned a starting central midfield role. There is reason for cautious optimism since Magee has enjoyed stellar preseasons in the past. If he stays healthy and focused, this could be his breakout season.
Clifton native Teddy Niziolek has left camp. It had less to do with the fact that Columbus wanted compensation for him as it did with the fact that the Red Bulls had other options at his positions. Ultimately, Niziolek could play center back and d-mid, but neither good enough to stand out in the coaches minds.
For those of you wondering, Jose de Jesus Mendoza has left the building. No, he’s not dead, just not with the Red Bulls anymore. As I told you from my reports in Austria, he just wasn’t that impressive.
Eric Brunner looked pretty good on Thursday, including an nice run and long-range blast for a goal. He is settling in well but I’m still not sure about him getting minutes early on in the season.
Speaking of rookies doing well, no rookie has increased his stock more this preseason than Luke Sassano, who enjoyed a monster of a game in the Red Bull’s 3-2 exhibition win against Red Bull Salzburg. He had a goal and assist in that match and I believe he’s pushing for a starting job in place of the injured Dane Richards.
Hunter Freeman’s foray at the left back spot for the U.S. Under-23 team is NOT something you will see with the Red Bulls. Osorio prefers left-footed players to play on the left side (he’s sort of the anti-Nowak in that regard).
Kevin Goldthwaite’s good preseason continues and I would say he’s the safe bet to start on opening day.
So what does the Red Bulls opening day lineup look like if the opener were today? Here’s my take:
Van Den Bergh——–Magee———-Freeman
What variations could we see? Reyna in Magee’s spot and Sassano in Reyna’s spot is the only other variation I see (though it wouldn’t shock me if Oscar Echeverry started). I know I had discussed rookie Danleigh Borman starting on the left flank and Van Den Bergh starting in central midfield, but I think for the start of the season you will see Van Den Bergh on the left. He might only be able to give the team 60 to 70 minutes in that very demanding 3-5-2 wing role but the job is Van Den Bergh until a new player arrives.
That’s all for now. Share your thoughts on the state of the Red Bulls below.