Gonzalo Veron’s tenure with the New York Red Bulls could be summarized with a single word for both the player and fans alike: frustrating.
The frustration lies in performance, appearances, finishing, passing, and lack of a clear path for the player. That frustration seems manifest in Veron’s performances of late, as the team of bad luck seems to be channeled through Veron in a way few players have experienced for the Red Bulls.
To his credit, Veron has been professional in his time with the team, accepting his situation and working hard to change his perception, but has come up shot on several occasions. As he completes his third season in the league, it is hard to tell if he has a future in the squad, or if he will remain a castoff and lightning rod for fans.
When Gonzalo Veron signed for the Red Bulls in the summer of 2015, the future seemed bright. In his first significant appearance with the Red Bulls, he scored the final goal in a 3-0 route of Toronto FC. Veron’s speed and vision seemed to not only compliment the Red Bulls, but elevate their strengths. Veron looked like the missing piece the Red Bulls craved.
Things have ultimately not gone as planned for the forward. Injuries have sidelined him for extended periods, and a lack of matches have kept the player from ever finding a rhythm or a sustained period of good form.
On Sunday afternoon, the best and worst of Veron were on display, leading the line for a Red Bulls B squad. While many first team players were rested ahead of Wednesday night’s U.S. Open Cup final, Veron found the rare start he has craved.
Ultimately, the afternoon could be seen as a success for Veron, but the weight of expectations on the player are enormous, and his perception within the fan base makes anything short of a home run a strikeout. Veron finished the day with four shots on target, and forced the action throughout the first half. If not for the efforts of Andre Blake, Veron would have likely walked away with a goal or two.
What does such a difficult run of form do to a player’s mentality? It is hard to measure, and thus difficult to put into words. Is belief enough to overturn the perception of reality?
Back in May, Veron scored the game winning goal against the New England Revolution, and it seemed like he had finally overcome his troubled past within the organization.
“If you look at just his statistics based on minutes played, they’re pretty good,” Kljestan said. “He’s scored some big goals for us now. Last year in LA he scored a big one for us. We all know he’s a good player. I think he needs to find his way to adapt to the way that we play, and I always hope he gets more chances to play because he’s very talented.”
That talent has not translated into much playing time, and as a result, he continues to struggle to maintain form. To Kljestan’s point above, the biggest issue for Veron has been adapting to the Red Bull style. With a lack of a clear position for Veron, and the inability to fit him on the field with Red Bull stalwarts Bradley Wright-Phillips and Sacha Kljestan, it becomes a question of future.
Will Veron fit into the future plans of the Red Bulls, or will his time with the club end with a whimper? Only time will tell, but the returns continue to point towards the latter.
If Veron manages to find his form and contribute on a regular basis for the Red Bulls, it would benefit all involved. Will the Red Bulls be rewarded for the patience in the player?