Rating Red Bulls' non-DP signings of 2010
UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J. – Several weeks ago, comments made by New York sporting director Erik Solér suggested that the Red Bulls will add English winger Luke Rodgers in January and that they are pursuing Norwegian international Jan Gunnar Solli.
Now that the club's season is over, many Red Bulls fans are eyeing 2011. What will the squad look like? Who, ultimately, will be brought in? Who will leave?
Aside from the big-name Designated Player transactions of Thierry Henry and Rafa Márquez and the draft picks, Solér & Co. have made plenty of moves this year. But just how good was the franchise's track record in the transfer market in 2010?
The signing of the Estonian international was a bit of a head-scratcher for those not familiar with the midfielder or his pedigree. Compounding matters was the fact that Lindpere comes from a nation not well known for its soccer.
But Lindpere quickly silenced all doubters, becoming the first player to score in Red Bull Arena in a 3-1 friendly win over Brazilian club Santos. He then opened his league goal-scoring account the following weekend in a 1-0 win over Chicago and closed the regular season with a tally in the finale against New England. Whether playing centrally or out wide, Lindpere has been a consistent work horse and his distribution has been a key to the club’s success this season. After this year’s playoffs, it is clear that he was the team’s most valuable player. Rating: 8
The Costa Rican international came with a background in the Scandinavian leagues and his style and substance has been a mixed bag. Miller moves forward well with good combination play and has shown to be an adequate defender. At times, however, Miller struggles in one-on-one situations.
His timing on his challenges leaves something to be desired. He moves forward well and there is no doubting that he links well with Lindpere, but his crossing is below average. Over the last four games of the regular season and the playoffs, he was a borderline liability. An area for a possible upgrade next year? Rating: 5
A draft-day acquisition, Albright was a big question mark coming off a knee injury that shelved him most of last season. By the World Cup break, the former United States international had worked his way into the New York starting XI.
Albright is a vastly underrated defender in terms of winning his challenges, and he moves into the attack incredibly well — something New York hasn’t had from this position in over a decade.
He was a gamble, but a gamble that has paid off big for the Red Bulls. Next year, Backe might want to spell Albright more with Jeremy Hall to give the veteran more rest, as he looked spent in the second leg of the playoffs. Rating: 6.5
The signing of the former Toronto FC keeper as a backup meant that fan favorite Danny Cepero was let go this spring. No matter to Sutton, who keyed the Red Bulls through three US Open Cup wins and was very solid in his several league appearances. His save on Robbie Findley in October, a beautiful reaction stop from near point-blank range, was a NAPA Save of the Week nominee.
WATCH: Sutton stones Robbie Findley
Chances are, though, that Sutton’s solid performances have played himself into a starting position on one of the two expansion teams coming into MLS next year. Rating: 6
The Red Bulls dealt for Robinson just days before the opening of Red Bull Arena and the former Welsh international has been solid.
He started consistently early in the season but a nagging knee injury forced him into surgery. After his return, he became a good option off the bench, adding some chippy flavor to the match when the Red Bulls needed to hold onto a lead.
His leadership on the practice field can’t be put into words. A true class act who had the endorsement of assistant coach Richie Williams when he got here. Rating: 6
Ibrahim's signing, when everyone knew Thierry Henry was coming in July, always seemed a bit questionable.
However, there is no denying that Ibrahim is a talented player who has a good work ethic and can score some goals. He’s not a speedy or pesky guy coming off the bench when you need a goal – he’s too big and plodding for that.
That said, he has the quality to do well in MLS. But will it be with the Red Bulls? Rating: 5.5
On paper, there is a lot to like about this move. Adding a young attacking player with a proven track record in the league is a good thing. But Ballouchy was often played out of position as a withdrawn forward or on the wing when he is clearly a central midfielder.
Ballouchy has good touch and vision, but is susceptible to floating in and out of some games. In fact, in the second leg of the playoff series against San Jose, he disappeared completely.
He's a good player to have to start and provide some depth, but he’s no franchise building block. Rating: 6.5
Talley played less than a half for the Red Bulls this season after a hamstring injury shelved him, but his signing was a good one. Keeping in mind that Albright is still, in many ways, recovering from injury, Talley is good defensive cover and a veteran presence on the team.
Once he gets fully healthy, Talley will be nice to have on the bench. Red Bulls fans will hope he’ll be entering MLS Cup 2011 in the 85th minute to help hold onto a lead as a player like him can add a lot. Rating: 5.5
Kristian R. Dyer can be reached for comment at KristianRDyer@yahoo.com and followed at twitter.com/kdyer1012