With a large roster overhaul and the appointment of a new head coach in the last five months, the New York Red Bulls expect 2021 to be a year of progress.
“First of all it’s very, very important that we bring my game, my idea to the team,” Head Coach Gerhard Struber said on Monday. “In the next few months, we need patience, we need a big belief in us.”
Struber was appointed as head coach in October, however, the acquisition of a U.S. work visa and quarantine protocols postponed his sideline debut until the MLS Cup Playoffs. Along with Head of Sport Kevin Thelwell, Struber has been busy this winter making big changes to his roster.
The club moved on from nine players, including Tim Parker, Marc Rzatkowski, and most notably Kaku. With an average age of just over 19, the nine players brought in this offseason fit right in with the team’s emphasis on young, high-energy players.
“I think we all understand we’ve got a very young and very new squad,” Thelwell said. “Of course, we’re ambitious this season, but having said that, it really is about following our process, taking things step by step, allowing these new players to acclimatize, and then hopefully we’ll see some good performances.”
A trade to Houston Dynamo ended Parker’s three-year stint in New York, adding to the team’s need for additions in central defense. The Red Bulls went after Colombian Andrés Reyes, signing the 21 year-old from Atlético Nacional in January. Reyes spent last season on loan with Inter Miami, making 13 appearances.
“We had very good reports on him, not only in terms of his attitude and his mentality around games, but also in terms of training,” Thelwell said. “[Reyes] made some mistakes as of course all young players do, but made them on somebody else’s time. I think he’ll only benefit from that experience.”
Among the acquisitions is Brazilian forward Fábio, who Thelwell said the club made a move for last year. The 23-year-old joins on loan until June, giving him two months to make an impact before the Red Bulls opt to make the move permanent.
Struber praised the Brazilian’s strength and speed and see’s him linking up well, likely alongside another striker.
Midfielder Youba Diarra and goalkeeper Carlos Coronel also joined the team on loan, both from sister club RB Salzburg.
With moves across the world during the pandemic proving to take a toll on players and coaches, Thelwell noted that these short-term deals provide the Red Bulls an opportunity to ‘try before you buy.’
Here are other news and notes:
- Thelwell wasn’t able to provide an update on Kaku’s move to Saudi Arabian side Al-Taawoun but reiterated that the club is currently undergoing legal action.
- The Red Bulls will train and host a friendly in New Jersey before traveling to Florida to play Nashville SC, Inter Miami CF, Miami FC, and Tampa Bay Rowdies.
- Struber filled out his staff this off-season, adding Jyri Nieminen as a goalkeeper coach. Nieminen spent two years as goalkeeping coach for the San Jose Earthquakes in 2018 and 2019.
- Cameron Harper, who completed a permanent move from Celtic on Friday, trained with the team on Monday. Thelwell noted that several of the new signings are awaiting visa approval and have yet to join the squad.