One of the best games this off-season has been trying to figure out which players Red Bulls head coach Juan Carlos Osorio is targeting on the transfer market. He has tried to keep things close to the vest but has slowly given away more and more information on the players, having given a little bit more on Wednesday.
Osorio, who revealed a week ago at media day that he still considered Lider Marmol one of the three players he will bring in before the transfer window expires, gave a few more hints on the other two players. His left-footed defender is playing on a relegation-threatened team in Europe while the other is playing for a South American squad playing in Copa Libertadores.
So who fits these descriptions?
The left-footed central defender sure does sound like Colombian defender and Paris St. Germain veteran Mario Yepes, a player Osorio admitted to me in January that he liked as a player. The 32-year-old is a left-footed central defender and his club happens to be sitting one point out of the Ligue 1 relegation zone after a key victory on Wednesday.
Osorio’s chances of landing Yepes sooner may no doubt have been hurt by PSG enduring a skid where it won just once in six matches from February to early March, a slide that has put the club in danger of relegation.
Yepes was considered an unlikely target for the Red Bulls by some because of his high salary at PSG (reportedly the highest in the French league), but he is 32 and could be ready for a change of scenery after six years in France.
A move to the Red Bulls would also reunite Yepes with Juan Pablo Angel, who he spent the 1999/2000 season as teammates with at River Plate.
Yepes would bring a steadying influence to a back-line that has had some trouble adjusting to Osorio’s shift to a 3-5-2 formation. Yepes’ arrival would allow Osorio to move Jeff Parke to the right back spot which is currently being fought for by Carlos Mendes and Chris Leitch.
As for the South American-based left winger? One rumor floating around was that the Red Bulls were looking at Caracas FC star Ronald Vargas. While Osorio has denied ever seriously considering Vargas, he did not deny whether he was looking at one of Vargas’ teammates. Osorio won’t reveal any names but one candidate for the left-sided role for the Red Bulls is Colombian midfielder Juan David Valencia, a 22-year-old left winger. Osorio saw plenty of Valencia when Osorio was coaching Millonarios and Valencia was playing for Independiente Medellin.
If the Red Bulls could add Marmol, Yeps and Valencia, the starting lineup could look like this when everyone is healthy:
About Ernst Obster
So who exactly is Ernst Obster? The name has popped up in recent reports linking him to the Red Bulls. The name didn’t click right away for me but after being reminded of where I had seen him play, it all came back to me.
Obster was the best player on the field for either team when the Red Bull Salzburg reserves faced the Red Bulls in the scrimmage that left Dane Richards injured and both teams trading ugly tackles. Obster stood out because while his teammates (and the visitors from NY) were engaging in a physical battle, he was pulling off some sweet moves from midfield.
Obster delivered a pair of blasts that nearly found net, one which powered off the crossbar and another that forced a great save by Jon Conway. He floated into different spots in midfield and showed good control in tight spaces and a deft passing touch.
Jeff Agoos watched the show from the Salzburg practice facility and didn’t need help identifying the most impressive player on the Salzburg reserves. Now the New York Red Bulls want to add Obster.
Will it happen? When I spoke to a Salzburg source about Obster during my trip to Austria I was told that Obster was a pretty highly-regarded prospect. Is Salzburg really ready to part with a top prospect in a loan deal?
More importantly for Red Bulls fans, where could he play? Obster would be best suited for the slot behind the forwards in Osorio’s preferred 3-4-1-2 formation and his passing and dangerous shot could make him an impact player in MLS.
Choosing Saturday’s lineup
Wondering what lineup Juan Carlos Osorio will use against the Columbus Crew on Saturday? Here’s one guess:
——Van Den Bergh—–Stammler———-
What do you think of the lineup? What lineup would you like to see?
Share your thoughts on the lineup and any of the above subjects below.