Red Bulls: The Rise of Erik Solér
Added by Jake Landau on July 31, 2012.
Erik Soler has the Red Bulls in position to make a championship run.
A year ago, most Red Bull fans would have fired their Sporting Director Erik Solér for the inability to comprehend MLS rules, trades and signings. The first year this man took over the “marred in mediocrity” New York Red Bulls, he traded away almost every draft pick and decided to build through Norwegian free agents. The debacle of Brian Nielson paired with the poor outcome of playoff performances made the new hotshots seem to be overpaid brats that only specialized in European players and leagues.
Boy did he have us all fooled. That one draft pick from 2010 eventually became Tim Ream, who started almost every single game his rookie season and was then sold to the Bolton Wanderers while in the English Premier League. After the team looked gutted for depth at the end of that same season, the current team has to be considered as one of the most dangerous starting 11 ever compiled.
Young talent has been taken in droves as homegrown player Connor Lade continues to dominate alongside some of the newest members like Brandon Barklage. As depth in the defense looked to be stifled, along came the successful signings of former All-Star Wilman Conde, and Swedish international Markus Holgersson. Even with the failed star Rafa Marquez stuck with injury woes and speculation on declining skill, the team has stayed together to make a solid group of players.
The real kickers are the moves Mr. Solér has made this year in 2012. What looked to be a tragedy of a trade when Dwayne De Rosario left the team in 2011 for Dax McCarty has done a quick 180, as Dax has been a stalwart in the midfield. Making tackle after ruthless tackle and patrolling in front of the back four. Kenny Cooper was acquired almost for free, as Portland ate his contract for this year and only gets allocation money if he’s signed in 2013. Cooper continues to be in the top five scorers in the entire league, adding two more to his total tally last weekend.
After the longest tenured Red Bull Dane Richards was traded for Sebastion Le Toux, things seemed to be the same old move, as no immediate gains were made. Le Toux scored a goal and added an assist in his first few games with the team to ease the minds and hearts of many. Agudelo, a young but unproven prospect was shipped to Chivas USA for consistent All-Star Heath Pearce, who has injected a necessary confidence into the defense.
If you think this all sounds too good to be true, it doesn’t stop here! After worries swept through the fan base when rumors of a Michael Ballack signing was imminent, the sporting director shot off similar rumors and signed one of the most consistent and proven legends in the English Premier League, the Evertonian Tim Cahill. With the most recent signing of a 6-4, 212 pound center back Babajide Ogunbiyi, the team finally seems set for a serious championship run.
New York Red Bulls have the talent and depth to go where no other New York team has gone before, straight to the podium, but that my friends, is why they play the game.
Catch Cahill’s first appearance tonight on ESPN2 against Gareth Bale and the Tottenham Hotspurs at 7pm EST. League play continues this Friday against the Houston Dynamo on NBCSN at 8pm EST.