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Marsch hints at Perrinelle, Zubar as Red Bulls starting centerbacks

Damien Perrinelle New York Red Bulls cropped (USA Today)

Photo by Eric Bolte/USA Today Sports


Jesse Marsch is feeling much more at ease and confident these days as it pertains to the standing of the centerbacks on his roster, so much so that it seems he’s made up his mind on the starters for the season opener.

When Marsch was appointed head coach of the New York Red Bulls in January there were some initial reservations as to if the crop of central defenders on the squad was good enough to carry out his plan for 2015. There was talent among the players on the roster, but not all of it fit into the blueprint that Marsch was laying out.

After making a number of moves and with a full preseason now complete, Marsch is no longer anywhere near as “concerned” about that talent or depth of the position. He has even appeared to confidently settle on a starting tandem for this Sunday’s first game at Sporting Kansas City.

“I think that Damien Perrinelle has done very well. He’s a very smart centerback and he’s a very good complement to the way that Ronald (Zubar) plays,” Marsch recently told SBI when asked about the position. “We’re asking a lot of our centerbacks both from a tactical perspective and from a physical perspective and I think that those two have worked really well together.”

Perrinelle and Zubar are both seasoned veterans who have carved out careers in Europe, but neither of the Frenchmen has extensive MLS experience. Perrinelle, 31, signed with the Red Bulls near the midway point of the 2014 campaign, but amassed just seven minutes in two regular season games. The 29-year-old Zubar, meanwhile, is preparing for his first year in the league.

The two centerbacks were involved in an open competition in preseason to replace Jamison Olave (traded) and Ibrahim Sekagya (retired) as the Red Bulls starters. Perrinelle and Zubar auditioned for the two spots along with Matt Miazga and Andrew Jean-Baptiste, two youngsters who are in the club’s plans but appear to be on the outside looking in right now as far as starting goes.

“One of my mains goals for this year is to help Matt Miazga establish himself,” said Marsch. “In the games he played last year I think he started to show that he’s got a lot of good qualities but that’s he looked a little green. This year, I’m going to help him understand how to get better, how to grow, how to learn and how to fit into the way we want to do things because his abilities are at a very high level and I’m really hopeful that we can help him establish himself.

“Then, Andrew Jean-Baptiste I think came in as a very raw centerback in a many ways, and he’s shown a lot of progress. We’ve added a lot of sophistication to the way he plays, his habits have gotten better, his reactions have gotten better, so I’m very hopeful that over time he can establish himself.”

While those four players offer a good variety of defensive options for Marsch, there is a chance that New York could add another centerback to its roster this week. Veterans Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and Karl Ouimette both spent a part of the preseason with the Red Bulls, and could land a deal as the club looks to round out its squad

One centerback who is not in the Red Bulls’ plans is Armando, the veteran Spaniard who signed with the club in 2014. Armando, who is currently under a guaranteed contract, has not trained with New York at all during preseason.

“There’s not really an update on Armando and I don’t think it impacts any of our other decisions that we have to make,” said Marsch. “I’d say that most of the decisions that are left are separate situations.”


How do you think a Perrinelle-Zubar tandem would fare? Would you prefer to see a different pairing? Not sharing Marsch’s confidence in the centerback position as a whole?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. I’m tired of this and that and all that bull crap.
    Can some red bull fan or metro star fan tell me, what owner(s) do they want. Is there an owner(s) they have on radar to buy red bull and make a serious offer, if yes WHO?
    For instance, If I was a millionaire or billionaire, I would be sending my lawyers or staff every month to MLS head quarters making serious offers to buy red bull. It’s a huge market, the NJ and NY market is massive and I would pay up to 500,000 million easily.
    Part 2, what name do you guys want. I haven’t read any names. Do you guys want metro stars or something similar. What colors, will you like red bull as the naming rights on the stadium.
    The best thing i can say is to start a website or ( Facebook) with the new name, colors and uniform design, similar to what that guy from Florida did with the Miami expansion team. He put options for the name, logo, and colors and that’s what you guys need to do.
    As a matter of fact, a Boston revolution fan also did that for the New England revolution.
    It’s in your hands and with today’s free marketing as in Facebook,Twitter and Instagram, what you guys waiting for,
    Sky is the limit and garber will turn your way.

    • There are owners interested in buying the team who the fans would be happy with. They’re known. Even Red Bull itself has admitted that they’ve received offers. Just because you haven’t read any names doesn’t mean they don’t exist. For a self-proclaimed “Soccer god”, you don’t seem to actually have any idea what’s going on.

  2. Say all you want but this organization is an embarrassment to MLS. They gave NYC away and have lost credibility with many fans.

  3. Wish people would give this team a chance to play some games to see what they are. Maybe Marsch sees something in Perrinelle that Petke didn’t. Maybe Petke, loyal as he was, might not be the only guy who can get something out of this team. They still have some good players, and the midfield tandem of Dax and Sacha is better than most, AND experienced in this league. Time will tell. As a general NY sports hater, I find myself rooting for RBNY, simply because NY fans are not.

    • I’m going to be at RBA every week rooting for them but that doesn’t mean I think this is a good team. If they come out and get off to a good start, I’ll be happy to admit I was wrong. But at this point all I see if a bunch of scrap heap, cheaper fill-in type guys in defense and Sacha/Felipe is not much of a response to losing Henry, Cahill and Olave. So I think some skepticism is justified.

      • Agree 100% re: skepticism, but many commenters (not you) have characterized the squad essentially as the equivalent of a USL team that will regularly embarrass itself. As I see the team, Cahill is a big loss, but he was a non-factor last year anyway. Henry is simply irreplaceable, and we can only hope that the new midfield can, collectively, begin to fill that huge gap. The central defense holds the key to the season, in my opinion. If they can gel, then RBNY have a chance of surviving the serious post-Henry drop-off on offense. If not, and the D is worse than they were even under the sainted Petke, things could get ugly. We’ll never know how Petke would have adjusted to the new reality, but my optimistic side says Marsch is a better bet to make the transition a smooth one. Let’s not forget that even with Henry, Cahill, and Olave, last year this was a fourth-place team.

      • My fear is that the team is unbalanced towards the midfield, particularly center mids. They’ve got a potentially great midfield, but have no other strengths on the team. They have one good wide player in Sam, one good forward in BWP, they’re very thin at fullback. To me, with all the talented center mids, the only formation that makes sense is a diamond, but I don’t see them playing that much in preseason. They seem to be relying on completely bossing the midfield and hoping the rest of the side just doesn’t completely suck. It will be interesting to see if this will work.

      • I’m not writing off Mike Grella yet. I’m happy with the entire team minus the defense.

      • Perhaps the centerbacks will gel…both of them are French…there has to be some connection that they have because they learned the game the same way…plus they can communicate with each other…granted they can’t communicate with the full backs, but they can communicate with each other…maybe it won’t be that bad….

      • By this logic, all French centerbacks would gel with each other. Do you think this actually happens?

      • Henry is irreplaceable, agreed, but football is not a one man sport either. Reasonable-case scenario is that SK is a major upgrade to Alexander and opens up the field more, Felipe offers more speed and unpredictability than “feed Henry and see what he can pull off,” Sam breaks out as a goal scoring threat, Peguy doesn’t lose anything, BWP gets fewer chances but finishes at a better rate, Dax stops giving up possession as much, and the back line doesn’t make too many unforced errors. Put that together, and Red Bulls could be very good. Or not. Dire predictions and complaining seem forced to me. Truth is we just don’t know what we will get on the field, like every year with Red Bulls.

      • I totally agree. The red bulls look like a good team this year better than most people give them credit for. If the don’t produce good results then we can all criticize everyone involved. But grella is more attackin and isn’t afraid to shoot. Striker position is the only concern, it’s pretty thin uptop if bwp gets injured who can cover for him grella?? The new Cameroonian forward looks pretty good and has potential to be our version of port lands fenendo adi so it looks good.

  4. Devil’s advocate: Perrinelle’s resume is pretty decent. The fact that he didn’t play last season isn’t so surprising as many players struggle when coming into MLS mid-season. I’m not writing him off yet, though he’s gotten lit up a few times this preseason. It’s certainly a major area of concern, but both guys have played enough top level soccer to hold down the fort if they’re able to adapt to MLS.

    • The Crew are going through the same thing with Pogatatz. Came into the league late last season and only got a handful of minutes – now a CB starter. We heard all these great things about him when they signed him, but it definitely makes me nervous when he’s been around for so long withiout having any meaningful minutes. We’ll see…

    • Perinelle and Zubar are both career Ligue 2 players. That’s not top level soccer. Zubar played for Marseilles for a while but was reviled there. I hope these guys play well, but I’m not expecting it.

  5. I don’t understand the red bull New York fan base. Some of them are supporting the team, some are not,others are being bipolar and they even put billboards against red bull.
    What is going on?
    Make up your mind people. If you want red bull ownership out then don’t attend games, don’t buy season tickets, plan a walk out for halftime and acquire signatures for Garber to notice a movement.
    It’s so simple and if red bull become a disaster, then the owner has to make the team better next season but the east conference is weak, and that benefits red bull.

    • Many fans tried to get refunds on initial season ticket payments after the they fired Petke. The front office told the fans trying to get refunds to go screw themselves.

    • I think everyone in the entire league wants red bull out, not just us fans. We attend games and support this team because we love this team, we just hate the ownership. I don’t think that’s unreasonable are difficult to believe.

      • Not sure what bothers me most about these billboard people, the fact that they will not stop whining about a coach being fired in professional sport or that they assume all the other ticket holders share their opinions.

    • Telling fans who want ownership out not to attend games is not always the greatest idea. A solid season ticket base and well-attended games is of critical core value to buyers.

      In my view, the sell decision (if there is one) is strategic and may very well have already been made, subject to a target valuation being hit. Fans just need to be patient and let it play out. Any prospective buyer is probably going to be eager to see how well NYRB is able to do with NYCFC around.

      You have to bear in mind that NYRB are not a Chivas situation. There will most certainly be a rebrand, but there will not be a new stadium or a “rip the guts out” transformation of personnel. Any new owner won’t want to find a new fanbase from scratch. Fans abandoning the games could be interpreted many ways by buyers– it could “spook” them into thinking that NYCFC had ruined the market opportunity.

    • Do you think you’re bringing brand new ideas to the table or something? The team’s supporters are already discussing all of this.

  6. Even in the midst of all the tumult and controversy — and maybe because of it — this is shaping up to be the most interesting RBNY season ever. The divergence of opinion about the team’s direction and prospects has never been more stark: this is either a pretty solid playoff-bound team or a disaster waiting to happen. Some commenters are going to be eating a lot of crow. And whoever turns out to be wrong, I hope they have the courage to admit it.

    • The starting XI is probably good enough to make the playoffs, although it’s certainly not as good as last season. That isn’t saying much considering 12 teams out of 20 now make the playoffs. And there is zero depth at the back (despite what Marsch is saying) or up front. This is a NY area team being run like it’s in the smallest of small markets.

      • Meh idk. I guess with the new format it almost comes down to how many teams are worse off than you are for playoff matchups. Impact and Fire are the obvious ones, but who knows if they turn it around. I think the two new teams are going to come out guns blazing, which is bad for NY, and I think Toronto finally makes it to the post season (which means they’ll probably have a melt down sometime along the line). So that means a race for one spot out of Columbus, Philly, and NY. I would definitely say RB starting XI is the least talented of the three.

    • I agree with you. This is going to be perhaps the most interesting of the many potentially excellent storylines coming our way this year. I can’t wait for the season to start.

    • Well, to be fair, the team itself is divergent. The attack looks excellent. The defense looks abysmal. They’ll probably be contenders for that stupid 6th seed.

  7. Marsch, lol. Trying to dress-up a pig. This team is going be absolutely terrible and leak the most goals in history. Not one new DP signing? RB is so not interested I this team. Curtis probably sold them on some Billy Bean formula but make my words – last place. Unless they get two DP level talents.

    • Why is signing dp’s so important ??? There are many teams that were better than ny last year and in years past without any dp’s or big names so what’s the big deal. Jesse March is a way better coach than petke. It’s just that all rbny fans are butt hurt bc petke got fired but let’s be realistic here. He was not a good coach or coach period. No experience didn’t know what he was doing. I like the direction the team is going.

      • Nice post by NY Red Bulls front office. Jojo beans, we all see right through you.

        Petke not a coach. He won the only silverware in team history and is literally the most winning coach in team history.

        You new front office losers have no clue.

      • You dont have to work for RBNY to be annoyed by the “fans” of a non existent team that wont move on…JUST LET IT GO! They won DESPITE Petke, not because of him!

      • This must be a front office troll. How can you say Marsch is a better coach than Petke? He’s only coached one season, Montreal’s first year, and they weren’t very good although that’s probably to be expected in an expansion team’s first year. Then he got canned. Meanwhile Petke won the supporters shield and got RBNY to the eastern conference final last year.

        And DPs are important because DPs are better than the other players around them. That’s why they get paid way more. RBNY just had $10m in salary come off the books with Henry and Petke leaving. And what do we get? Sacha on a non-DP contract. Olave leaves? Replace him with Zubar and Perrinelle, who couldn’t even make the bench on last year’s team.

        Sure, Toronto has spent tons with no return but other teams that have spent a lot have had plenty of success – Seattle and LA. Curtis and RB are running a NY area team like they play in a tiny market. Unlike some others, I have no problem with RB owning the team and naming it after itself if the company is serious. But recent actions indicate they aren’t.

  8. Perrinelle? This guy couldn’t even make the bench last year and now he’s a starting center back? They had $10m in salary come off the books with Cahill and Henry leaving and this is what they sign? Sacha on a non-DP contract and Felipe? What a joke.

    The cheapness isn’t just with player signings either. Every year RBNY normally starts with an away game and season ticket holders are invited to come watch the game in the club seats lounge area. In the past they’ve had a full buffet. This year? Light snacks. Last year, all season ticket holders got a RBNY jacket with their season tickets. This year? We get the team’s thanks. Yet another reason for them to sell!

    • Season tix holders got an exclusive scarf, so there is that. I understand where you are coming from, but the overhaul was comprehensive enough that we really don’t know what will happen until the players get half a season under their belt. The same is true for management. Maybe Red Bull felt that the options weren’t right for a big DP now and is saving your second jacket money for a DP this summer.


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