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Red Bulls give rookie free agents a look

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It has been just a little more than two months since the New York Red Bulls lost in their first MLS Cup final appearance and the work is already underway to try and get the team back to the championship game.

The full squad has yet to report to training camp but rookies and free agents have been put through the paces at the Giants Stadium practice bubble this week.

Three of the Red Bulls' four draft picks have been taking part in training, with the only absence being No. 18 overall pick Babajide Ogunbiyi, who is staying in school at Santa Clara to finish the spring semester. He is expected to rejoin the team in March.

So who else has been in the rookie/free agent camp? The group includes some quality college players who weren't drafted and one goalkeeper looking to come back home:

Maryland right back Rich Costanzo, North Carolina midfielder Michael Callahan, UC-Irvine defender Kyle Schmid and former Providence goalkeeper and New Jersey native Chris Konopka have all been in training this week, hoping to land one of the precious few available roster spots.

Costanzo was a starting right back on Maryland's national championship team. He was the lone starting defender not to be drafted after the team's other three starters were taken in the top 19 picks of the draft. Capable of playing right wing as well as right back, Costanzo was a three-year starter at Maryland after starting his college career at Penn State.

Callahan is the most decorated of the free agent college prospects. A second-team All-American for North Carolina, Callahan is a central midfielder who started all four years for the Tar Heels. He is regarded as a skillful central midfielder who's slight frame made him be overlooked in the MLS Draft.

If the name Schmid rings a bell, it should. Kyle Schmid is the son of Seattle Sounders coach Sigi Schmid. The 6-foot-2 UC-Irvine central defender impressed Red Bulls scouts when UC-Irvine faced St. John's in the NCAA Tournament.

While goalkeeper might be considered the last area of need for the Red Bulls, that still isn't stopping them from taking a look at 6-foot-5 Jersey product Chris Konopka. The former Providence College goalkeeper spent the past year with Irish club Bohemians.

There is one familiar name in the group to Red Bulls fans. Slavisa Ubiparipovic, brother of Red Bulls midfielder Sinisa Ubiparipovic, is also in camp hoping to land a contract.

What do you think of this group of rookie free agent trialists? Can you see any of them making the team? Are you praying the Red Bulls can trade Schmid to Seattle for the rights to Jeff Parke? Think Konopka can make the Red Bulls roster, which already had four goalkeepers?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. My name is Donny DUDDIKOFF,I live in London and I am a soccer play,and I am in club in London.

    I want to be in team,so I need your sponsor to have a visa to come there.

    I am 22 years old and play soccer since 8 years ago.

    This is my adress and my phone number is 07939800692.

    Thans for your comprehension.

  2. I think this should definitely concern Conway. We have 4 keepers and now add another into the mix. One that was actually rated highly coming out of college. Conway does make $115K. If they could trade Conway and his salary and bring in Konopka at a lesser cost, this may be a very good move especially if he is as good or better.

    I think Costanzo will definitely push Zimmerman and Leitch for that RB position. This could be an interesting preseason battle.

    As for Callahan, from the little that I have seen of him he doesn’t look ready for this level, but he has been a key player on a very good ACC team for the past 4 years. You never know.

  3. Best of luck to them all. It’s much harder with the roster size cut down to 24. Isn’t this a step backward in the attempt to compete in regional tournaments such as the CONCACAF Champions League?

  4. something tells me that the only one with a real chance is callahan – if he shows he is skilled in the center. maybe costanzo has a slim chance since osorio likes versatility with the smaller rosters.

  5. Ives. It looks like that site that stole your article erased everything you said except for the begining. Also the pic that he took from you isn’t showing up on the site. Or my computer isn’t doing it.

  6. Its funny how half of the posts didn’t have anything to do with the Red Bulls but rather in defense of Ives all because of one silly comment 🙂

  7. Bohemians are the 2008 league of Ireland champions, for what it’s worth. But the League of Ireland is a mess. The situation is that the Bohemians have forced their players to take a pay cut in order to stay afloat. The rest of the league isn’t in much better shape, which is what lands him here.

    It seems like he didn’t play too much for them at any rate. This article ( seems to suggest that there’s a better keeper ahead of him.

    As far as Ubi Jr. is concerned, I think this camp isn’t entirely meant as a tryout. I think the Red Bull are just keeping their eye on these kids and trying to judge where they are in development. Remember last year’s story was that Matt Kessel was participating.

    With no more developmental spots, I don’t anticipate any signings to come of this right away. But you never know.

  8. Thanx for the update Ives. Did you ever touch on the reasons for MLS shrinking the rosters or getting rid of the Reserve system?

    And Steve@12:52. Looks like some d-bag is ripping headlines from all over to garner hits to the fledgling site. F’em.

  9. Brian, that’s one of the great comments on any blog in a long time. Someone needs to expand on that, and show it to everyone who fits that category (Joe Lapira, meet Greg Dalby).

  10. So, what’s the deal with Sigi not giving his own son a trial? I’m sure he’s big enough to squash any claims of nepotism if the kid is good enough?

  11. “Tom” (if that is your real name!), this isn’t your blog. The author will do what he likes with it. Is it really that much of an inconvenience to you? God forbid you have to read a few more sentences designed to guide the discussion.

  12. Tom,
    “What do you think” about changing it to “How do you feel” would that help or Ive’s could change it to “What does everyone EXCEPT Tom think.” Really possibilities are endless…just let us know…we are here to help 🙂

  13. “would u stop asking “what do you think” at the end of every post. If people have an opinion they will post it!”

    this post ends with “Share your thoughts below.”, so request granted I guess

  14. Ives,

    Do you know if the Red Bulls knew the situation with Babajide Ogunbiyi before drafting him?

    I mean they need CB’s, especially right footed ones. I try to defend the front office, but sheesh…

    Posted by: Dannyc58 | January 22, 2009 at 11:04 AM

  15. Tom, easy on Ives. Pretty sure he knows what he’s doing. You need to take it down a notch. If you are not happy, go read They could use the eyeballs.

  16. With the reduced roster size, I’m assuming Osorio will keep the Top 3 goalkeepers. At this point that’s Cepero, Conway, and XXX.

    I actually wouldn’t be terribly surprised for him to only keep 2…

    With the reduced roster size, these kids really have to show something to be considered

  17. Ah, Konopka, yet another one of the “I’m too good for MLS and am going to go to Europe to show you” brigade who ends up crawling home for a contract. Guess all those press releases his agent sent out about how he was going to find a contract over there really didn’t do much in the long run.

  18. Ives,

    Slavisa Ubiparipovic was a junior this past season at Cleveland State. How would the Red Bulls be allowed to sign him and what stops other underclassmen from trying out with the team of their choice and usurping the draft?

  19. Hate to say it, but with the newly reduced roster sizes (24 instead of 28) and no reserve league, it’s going to be awfully tough for any of these guys to make the roster.


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