Having long been underachievers despite spending millions on high profile designated players such as Thierry Henry, Tim Cahill and Rafa Marquez, the New York Red Bulls hope their 2013 Super Draft signings will be a lower cost road to future success.
The Major League soccer club, which is owned by Austrian sports drink company, Red Bull GmbH, recently signed its two top draft picks, Michael Bustamante and Ian Christianson.
The Red Bulls took the 23-year-old Bustamante, a midfielder from Boston University, with the 13th pick. Despite missing the 2011 season due to injury, he was a four-time America East All-Conference First Team and NSCAA All-Northeast Region selection for the Terriers, scoring nine goals and dishing out 27 assists in 69 career games. Bustamante, a native of Colombia, already scored once in the pre-season, netting in the second half against Real Salt Lake at the Desert Diamond Cup in Tucson, Arizona.
Christianson, whom the Red Bulls took in the second round with the 22nd pick, was a four-year starter for Georgetown, scoring 14 goals and tallying 10 assists in 78 career games with the Hoyas, 77 of which were starts. The 21-year-old native of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, racked up several honors while at Georgetown. He was an NSCAA Third Team All-America selection, NSCAA First Team All-Northeast Region pick and was on the All-Big East First Team in his senior year. In 2010, which was his best season statistically, Christianson was the Big East Midfielder of the Year.
Considered a top defensive midfielder in the draft, Christianson, like Bustamante, has already made a mark on the Red Bulls squad, scoring the winning goal in the team`s season-opening pre-season game with the Columbus Crew.
Up to this point, Red Bulls coaches haven`t said much regarding how much of a role either of the two rookies will have with the team this year, but it`s clear they see a lot of potential. They will be competing for playing time in a midfield that includes Cahill, Dax McCarty and Juninho.
“Ian and Michael have both shown us in pre-season that they have the potential to become future contributors to our club,” Red Bulls Sporting Director, Andy Roxburgh said in a news release posted to the club`s website. “Both of them have shown that they have the willingness to improve and we are pleased to track their progress this season.”
Red Bulls coach, Mike Petke, singled both players out after the first pre-season game, along with several of the team`s other young players.
“We knew the type of player we got in Ian. This is just one game, though; we`re not going to start handing out awards. But it was encouraging to see,“ Petke told the New York Post on Feb. 1. “He was getting his head up, he was switching the point of play, he wasn`t nervous or rattled, he sat in his position very well. That`s encouraging. It`s something you can look at the future and say we have something here, we have a starting point.“
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