By DAVE MARTINEZ
As the New York Red Bulls opened their preseason camp two weeks ago, coach Hans Backe surveyed the landscape of his young goalkeeping ranks and assessed the need for an established veteran to take a leadership role.
Despite being heavily rumored to be grasping that role, Venezuelan netminder Renny Vega will not be the one manning the posts at Red Bull Arena this season.
Vega's agent confirmed that talks between both parties had been ongoing, but have since broken down.
"The New York Red Bulls are no longer an option," Vega's agent said. "The Red Bulls know which way they want to scout and people they want to pick. Erik Soler has a mentality of where he wants to be headed and where he wants to find players, and I wish him the best."
As recently as last week, Vega, 32, had been vocal about his desire to play for the Red Bulls. Since vacationing in the Big Apple this December, the 2011 Venezuelan Player Of The Year and current Caracas FC backstop gushed about the opportunity to ply his trade stateside, saying he would "go to New York with (his) eyes closed!"
That no longer seems to be a possibility.
Vega's agent declined to comment on the nature of the discussions with New York, nor the possibility of further negotiations with other MLS sides. The Red Bulls offered no comment on the topic.
With the start of the season a few weeks away, New York currently has two netminders in place: recent acquisition Jeremy Vuolo, 25, formerly of Finnish side AC Oulo, and 21-year-old MLS SuperDraft pick Ryan Meara. Former goalkeeper Frank Rost is no longer in the teams plans.
The Red Bulls are said to be looking into another young American trialist while in Mexico. Nevertheless, barring an unexpected swoop for a veteran keeper, it looks more and more likely that Vuolo has the upper hand in this year's battle for that starting goalkeeper role.
Can New York be competitive with a second-year professional manning the backline? Do you think the Red Bulls need to bring in a more experienced goalkeeper to be the starter?
Share your thoughts below.