Good afternoon folks. There were plenty of unfamiliar faces at Red Bulls practice today, and plenty going on with the club, so here is a rundown of some of the happenings today and the latest with the club (including more on the George Welcome situation).
The four players the Red Bulls are expected to sign (Jorge Rojas, Juan Pietravallo, Gabriel Cichero and Diego Jimenez) were all at training but their status for Saturday’s match against the Galaxy is still in doubt. The club is going through visa processing and as of right now none of the players are cleared to play.
Red Bulls head coach Juan Carlos Osorio plans on using Rojas in a playmaking role, taking advantage of the veteran’s vision and passing ability to fill a void that has been empty since Amado Guevara left after the 2006 season. He looked sharp in practice and can definitely pass the ball well. He said he feels comfortable playing as a No. 10 and I think that’s where you will see him play for the most part.
George Welcome trained with the team today and the club did confirm that it has the second discovery spot on Welcome (as SBI told you last week, New England has the first discovery option).
So why won’t this situation be the same as the messy Lider Marmol situation? Once the Red Bulls decide to make an offer to Welcome New England will be approached by MLS to make an offer. The Revs would then either have to make Welcome an offer or pass on the player, which would put the Red Bulls in the driver’s seat.
New England making an offer doesn’t look like a guaranteed thing, so there is a chance the Red Bulls could land Welcome, assuming they want to sign him. He looked good in training as a holding forward, though he did look a bit slow, probably rusty from all his recent travels.
Gabriel Cichero’s deal to join the Red Bulls is done as far as the clubs are concerned, but Cichero’s compensation is still being sorted out. It doesn’t look like it will be a problem though as it is clear that Cichero forced Deportivo Italia to make the loan happen. The deal is for the remainder of the season, with an option for a second season as well as an option to buy (which is a requirement of any loan deal involving MLS teams.)
My first impressions of Cichero are that he’s big, composed, good on the ball and a very good passer out of the back (I’ve seen one session and feel comfortable saying he’s already a beter passer out of the back than any other Red Bulls defender-and no, I don’t count Dave Van Den Bergh as a defender.)
Juan Pietravallo is one tough customer and I think he’s an upgrade at defensive midfielder. I don’t think he’s as athletic as Seth Stammler, but he’s a better passer and better on the ball. He and Stammler could form a nice partnership in front of the defense, either in a 3-4-1-2 or 4-2-3-1. Pietravallo is a good passer and gets forward well. I don’t think he’ll have a tough time adjusting to MLS.
As far as visas go, Diego Jimenez appears to be the player most likely to have his clearance to play first. He is slated to be the team’s option at left back in a three and a four-man defense.
The Oscar Echeverry saga continued on Monday as he looked pretty awful in training. There is something definitely wrong with him physically because he appears to be laboring badly whenever he tries to run. If I hadn’t seen him look very good in pre-season I would say he’s just a horrendous player. I think he’s injured and trying to play through it. He doesn’t even try to make cuts, which is a key part of his game when healthy, and I think I only saw him reach anything close to top speed on one occasion.
So what will the team do? I think Echeverry will either be waived or put on injured reserve to clear the roster spot. It doesn’t really matter which oe the team does since his contract is guaranteed for the rest of the year (unless he signed the waiver to push back his guaranteee date, which I haven’t heard).
So what sort of starting lineup will we see when all players are ready to go? Here is one possible lineup:
Van Den Bergh————————————Sassano
And lastly, the Red Bulls will face the Harrisburg City Islanders of USL-2 in a scrimmage at Giants Stadium on Tuesday. Harrisburg City is the club of Red Bulls goalkeeper Danny Cepero, who has enjoyed a strong season on loan with the Islanders. I will be at the match and will provide a running commentary from it.
That’s all for now. Feel free to share your thoughts below.