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Red Bulls Notebook: Henry return date set, Rodgers’ visa problems and more


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There will be no hero's send-off for Thierry Henry.

After Henry scored the final goal in a 7-1 Arsenal victory over Blackburn last weekend, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger alluded to the possibility of extending Henry's loan up to the London derby against Tottenham on Feb. 26. Such a move would have allowed the club to properly send off their legendary striker and all-time leading scorer in front of the Gunner faithful.

New York Red Bulls coach Hans Backe threw cold water on the entire affair. Speaking to the media via conference call, Backe said that Henry will be returning to the club on Feb. 17. 

"When I talked to him just some days ago, he said 100 percent he will be back Feb. 17 with us to join in (the Arizona training camp)," Backe said. "I said before he signed that he will be (used) as a sub and probably being in and around the locker room with Arsenal until they get the African Nation Cup players back," Backe said.

Asked if any overtures were made by Arsenal to extend Henry's loan, Backe denied the reports. 

"Of what I know, it is only rumors," said Backe, who re-affirmed that Henry would be the Red Bulls' captain this season. "I haven't heard anything that they have reached out to extend the loan."

Henry's loan has already produced some lasting memories for Arsenal. His game-winning goal against Leeds United in FA Cup competition made worldwide headlines, while last week's goal against Blackburn poetically connected the Gunners' icon scorer with their present day star, Robin van Persie.

Even with those accomplishments behind him, Henry can still conjure up another memory or two as he remains on with Arsenal for a Premiership fixture against Sunderland and a UEFA Champions League tilt against AC Milan.


With one half of the team's striking duo accounted for, there still remains questions about the availability of Luke Rodgers. The diminutive English striker, who was a force up top when available last season, is still having visa issues despite the club's confirmation to the contrary last week. 

After an initial work permit denial, Backe said the Red Bulls have placed an appeal for Rodgers and expect word on the forward's availability by the end of next week.

Backe's confirmation follows statements made by Red Bulls general manager Erik Soler, who elaborated on the situation earlier this week on the MLS podcast, ExtraTime Radio. 

"Luke was so happy when someone called him and told him his visa was on its way," Soler said. "So he reacted to the phone call, because he's so eager to get back and start going. He was a little bit too early with that.

"It turns out, it still has some work to be done and we're still very hopeful it will be resolved. According to our immigration lawyer it will still be another week or maybe two weeks. We hope we can have him ready when we go to Phoenix on the 23rd of February." 


The Red Bulls took a chance trading for and signing Colombian defender and former MLS All-Star Wilman Conde in hoping to find a strong replacement for the departed Tim Ream. The 29-year-old centerback is recovering from major surgery to his left instep that put an end to his time in the Mexican Primera.  From the looks of things, Conde's road to recovery is far from over.

Asked whether Conde would be available for the season opener, Backe cautioned, "He could be." Citing fitness concerns, the team plans to work on the defenders conditioning leading up to their Arizona camp. There, it is the coach's hope that Conde could participate in some game action.


Backe confirmed the signing of former Hibernian midfielder Victor Palsson.

The coach labeled Palsson "close to Teemu (Tainio)" in style and substance. The 21-year-old Icelandic defensive midfielder will join a packed rotation featuring Rafa Marquez and Tainio. 

The move provides cover at the position, which will come in handy immediately. Tainio picked up a knock during training this week. Backe labeled it a "soft calf strain," but the injury will be serious enough to rule the defensive midfielder out for the team's remaining friendlies in Mexico.


With no veteran goalkeeping options in sight at the moment, the Red Bulls have been pleasantly surprised with their young tandem of Ryan Meara and Jeremy Vuolo.

Though not ruling out another signing, Backe expressed his confidence that one of his youngsters could be the teams starter.

"We have names," Backe said, "But we said also because both Ryan Meara and Jeremy Vuolo have done well in training, in the first game looked very solid 45 minutes each, let’s stay calm and see the next two games – the Saturday and Tuesday games – see how they can perform. Fingers crossed, perhaps one could be the No. 1 goalie."


Backe also gushed when talking about some of his trialists. 

Jose Angulo, the former St. Benedict High School standout, and Jhonny Arteaga received particular praise from the Red Bulls boss on various occasions. Backe also had kind words for former D.C. United midfielder Brandon Barklage, drawing comparisons between him and Dane Richards.

At one point, Backe said he would like to sign them all. He will give the remaining guest players an extended look into their Arizona camp.


  1. Yikes !!!! I stand corrected….ooops I am a fan in a hurry but a loyal fan from season one MLS, so that’s why I love my Ives and crew… and from back in the days of our beloved MIAMI FUSION !!!

    Luckily, I don’t make my living by writing, but as an Architect I can tell you some programs believe or not do not have spell check, makes me bonkers too, but I just don’t want anyone to slam on our darling Ives !!!

  2. The contrast between the LA Galaxy’s steady progress and the quality of its management and players — and that of the Soler/Backe train wreck — is beyond comprehension. And these are two teams with the same budgets.
    At this point, the word is out on the Red Bull debacle, so the pool of players that are willing to come to NY is much more limited than other franchises. Does anybody believe that Henry (or Agudelo, Ream, fill in the blank) wants to build or finish a career as part of this circus?
    At least we still have access to Icelandic players… (??)

  3. Thank you for your concern.

    Generally, if someone is going to make a living writing, that party should check his punctuation.

    I know that’s crazy!

  4. I didn’t say it was a bad blog. I just think that using spell-check and proofing a piece before posting it would be a great idea!

  5. They got off to a great start last year. They were playing beautiful football in the first few months then it fell apart. So a good start is needed, but the need to finish well also.

  6. Listen. When you misspell “crticism” in the blog comments, you’re a fan in a hurry. Who cares? The author of the post, however, asks me to trust him with his (let’s face it, often dubiously sourced) news. A typo? Of course we forgive it. Homophone confusion — “allude” for “elude”? — is also forgivable. But this happens ALL the time. It doesn’t appear rushed; it appears ignorant. I mean, I think they do a great job on getting the news up fast. But there’s a difference between being fast (The New York Post) and being fast and right (The New York Times). Yes, this is a very good blog, and I like it. I wish they took themselves more seriously.

  7. Whoops, I myself had a typo….lol !!!

    Meant…All OUR love !!!

    Anyway back to the matter at hand…..Metrobulls fans are the best as they are so informative, mixed with a great sense of humor, Ives and the fabulous Dave Martinez of Empire of Soccer, come to mind, and NY is still a great place for a Championship….Still have a spectacular Colombian (American), whom now counts as a Domestic Player, and can add to the depth chart as a magnificent playmaker….stay tuned and VAMOS #17….not the Juanito one, the original # 17, lol !!!

  8. VERY, VERY DISAPOINTED IN THE CRTICISM HERE…..Ives and his crew process a tremendous volume of Global Information, into a spectacular source of concise, accurate information,on an hourly basis !!! Seriously, this blog is a joy, any typos are usually diplomatically pointed out and corrected immediately. Simmer down please and keep the unkind comments to yourself please.

    All of love, martha and #17

    P.S. This is one of the best blogs of any discpline of Sports, or any other type of Entertainment.

  9. how many of them have green cards? If they have a green card they don’t count. I think Ballouchy has one for example, which would take him out of this list

  10. Ballouchy has a green card, and I think Richards might as well(though I am not sure about that) Also I would not be surprised if someone like Lindpere is on his way to one.

  11. A new Icelandic signing? There is no way the Red Bulls will have enough international slots. By my count (assuming Rodgers gets his visa), that’s 13 internationals on their roster:

    1. Tainio
    2. Marquez
    3. Holgersson
    4. Miller
    5. Solli
    6. Rodgers
    7. Ballouchy
    8. Richards
    9. Lindpere

    There is no way they have traded for FIVE international spots! Right?

  12. “Asked whether Conde would be available for the season opener, Backe cautioned, “He could be.” Citing fitness concerns, the team plans to work on the defenders conditioning leading up to their Arizona camp.”

    There is a major question here whether Backe is being honest. But, if he’s not being honest (which is pretty much a given), it should be asked if he’s being overly pessimistic about Conde’s fitness or overly pessimistic. Considering that, per the FO, Henry and Ream were going nowhere, Rodgers was going to zip through the visa process, etc., I wouldn’t be looking for Conde to be on the roster for RBNY on opening day.

    And three a days could mean three spins on the exercise bike or pulling on exercise bands – doesn’t mean he’s near the field or full fitness.

  13. I agree. The punctuation on this blog makes reading it a chore. The writers also make factual errors which they repair only after they are pointed out by posters. Would it be so difficult to read the piece over once before posting?

    Clearly, the staff skipped their 10th grade English grammar classes to go hang out in the cafeteria.

  14. Cut him some slack.

    Even is this is the best source for soccer by a mile…and it is….it is still a blog. If he doesn’t get the story up quick, he is booed for that too.

  15. I couldn’t get past this either. If you are going to publish your writing you owe it to your readers to make sure very basic mistakes such as the one mentioned by Conrad are wholly absent. There really is no excuse.

  16. I have lost all faith in Backe and Soler. It is difficult to generate any excitement for this team. Maybe if they get out of the gate quick playing attractive football, it would change things, but I just don’t see it.

  17. “From the looks of things, Conde’s road to recovery is far from over.”

    I’m sorry, but are you looking at his leg? The guy is doing three-a-days in Mexico working on his fitness, according to the team. Let’s not exaggerate his foot situation.

  18. Red Bulls: Get a new immigration lawyer who is pro-active and stays on top of the paperwork. We want Rodgers back!

    Didn’t Conde pass a physical before being signed?

    I’m glad that Ryan Meara and Jeremy Vuolo are doing well and am impressed that they are both ready to step in and be a top MLS goalkeeper despite their youth. Great finds!

  19. Reading through the lines:
    -Backe and Arsenal are fighting over how long he should stay there
    -Some unforeseen problem has come up with Rodgers’ visa and now RBNY is backtracking
    -Tainio is brittle and can’t count on him for this season
    -Conde will be a mess, either hurt or “lack of fitness” = orange traffic cone
    -They have no clue what to do at keeper and are praying that one of these guys can do the job
    -RBNY is hoping a lot of these guest players somehow find their way into the team because they don’t have a backup plan

    As the long time fans would say…”That’s so Metro!”


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