HARRISON, N.J. — The New York Red Bulls said hello to the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals on Thursday. They also seemed to say goodbye to Felipe.
The Red Bulls advanced to the next round of the Champions League on a rainy Thursday night by defeating Honduran side CD Olimpia, 2-0, at Red Bull Arena to take the series via a 3-1 aggregate score. The Red Bulls prevailed in the decisive leg with a first-choice lineup, but the absence of one regular starter raised plenty of eyebrows before the game.
Felipe, one of the team’s longest-serving players and locker room leaders, was not included in the Red Bulls 18-man gameday roster. No official reason was given for his mysterious omission, but Red Bulls coach Jesse Marsch’s comments after the match sounded like those of a coach speaking about a former member of the team.
“Felipe has been an important guy around here and he really has balanced our midfield out the right way,” said Marsch. “But we also know that moving forward that Tyler (Adams) is going to be a big piece of that, Sean Davis is going to be a big piece of that, we think Mark Rzatkowski is going to be a very good player.”
Felipe has been the subject of trade speculation in recent weeks, with a reported deal between the Red Bulls and Whitecaps being discussed that would send defender Tim Parker to the Red Bulls. There was no official announcement of a trade by late Thursday, but that didn’t stop veteran Bradley Wright-Phillips from sounding like a deal was already done.
“The guy was quality when he was here,” Wright-Phillips said of Felipe. “Even up to his last game, he gave 100 percent and you can’t fault the man. Good luck to him. We move on.”
If Felipe is getting shipped out to Vancouver, Red Bulls will lose yet another important veteran presence. The highly-touted midfield trio of Felipe, Sacha Kljestan, and Dax McCarty that the Red Bulls assembled in 2015 would also be completely gutted, replaced by younger options in Romero Gamarra, Adams and Davis.
As of now, however, Felipe is still officially a Red Bulls player. He might not be for long, though.
“I think there will be clarity in the next couple days,” said Marsch.