Red Bulls Weekly Update: January 25

New York returns to training as preparations for 2011 MLS Season begin

Henry_NY

Photo Credit: 
Getty Images

RED BULLS HOLD FIRST MEDIA AVAILABILITY: The Red Bulls held their first media availability of the season Tuesday in Waldwick, NJ. They enter their second season at Red Bull Arena – the premier soccer facility in North America located in Harrison, NJ – after winning the Eastern Conference regular season title and completing one of the best turnarounds in MLS history. Led by MLS Coach of the Year finalist Hans Backe, the Red Bulls boast international stars Thierry Henry and Rafa Marquez, MLS Newcomer of the Year finalist Joel Lindpere and recent U.S. Men’s National Team up-and-comers Juan Agudelo and Tim Ream.

Here are some excerpts from Tuesday’s session:

RED BULLS HEAD COACH HANS BACKE

On the benefits of getting the players into camp early:
“I think it was eight of weeks of vacation they got and it’s a little bit too much sometimes. But they got individual programs and we could measure them with a pulse watch, so we started on a higher level compared to last season. The players are fitter, and probably we could take the next step with that basic fitness.”

On if anyone was lagging behind:
“The testing we started the last four days, last Thursday through Sunday and there were different tests and it seems that when I talk to the fitness coaches and analyze that, they find it decent. It’s good, as it should be for a professional.”

On Thierry Henry’s fitness and the condition of his knee:
“I’m sure that even if he still has some pain with the knee, he did some work in London, more gym work to strengthen the area around the knee. I think he did one week with Arsenal doing some football, but I am absolutely sure that if he stays fit during the preseason then definitely we will see a very good striker.”

On Jan Gunnar Solli and what he will do for the Red Bulls:
“He can play different positions. He has been a very all-around player. He can play right fullback, he can play wide right, half-right and probably also in a central midfield position but I think at the beginning now we will try to use him more in the midfield, more in like a half-right because of his work ethic.”

RED BULLS GENERAL MANAGER/SPORTING DIRECTOR ERIK SOLER

On how many other players he sees joining the team from the Red Bulls Academy:
“I keep in constant touch with the Academy of course, and speak to Bob (Montgomery). He has the neighboring office to mine in the arena and we walk through the whole academy system monthly and I know there are a bunch of kids that are really, really good talents coming up from younger ages. So we are really optimistic and we’re going to make sure that the academy will have more and more focus. We will work harder and harder to get them whatever they need to continue to do their job. I’m just thankful for being part of an organization that has such a great bunch of people working to create players.”

RED BULLS FORWARD THIERRY HENRY

On the status of his knee:
“It’s way better. Another day or two until I can strike the ball too hard, but it’s hopefully something that’s in the past and hope it’s going to stay in the past.”

On his offseason training in London:
“It was a lot of the stuff that we used to do at Arsenal, a little ballwork, just to try to be in shape before coming back because as you guys know, I kind of had a month off before, or two months off, so I didn’t want to arrive here kind of rusty. I know that was the first time in my life I’ve had the two months off. It was kind of nice but at one point, I was getting bored. Just the matter of coming here and not being too tired. As you can see, the staff is doing a great job because we have two months to prepare for the season so we’re not really getting into it too hard right now, but so far so good.”

On his expectations for the season, both individually and for the team:
“I never set myself any targets, so on the personal point of view I don’t really care what’s happening, all I want is the team to win. You know, what happened last season, everyone got excited, we thought we could have done it, but there were some great teams around, and it’s the same thing this year. I think every time you’re in a competition you want to try to win it, I think as a team that’s what you want to do, as an organization we want to finally be able to bring that trophy that we have never won, so that is the thing. On a personal point of view, I am 33, I never set myself any targets since I was 17, so I’m not going to start now.”

RED BULLS MIDFIELDER JAN GUNNAR SOLLI

On why he decided to come to the New York Red Bulls:
“I think that I just needed a new challenge. I’ve been playing professional back in Norway for 10 years and have experienced a quite lot in my life. So now I felt like I was just ready to do something a little bit new, and of course Hans wanted me here, that was a big reason why I wanted to make the move (and) of course to be able to play on a team with Thierry Henry or Rafa Marquez. And also now, I’ve just experienced there’s a lot of other good players here as well, so the challenge, I think that was the main thing.”

On how comfortable he is playing in multiple positions:
“I see myself as a team player, and, wherever the coach wants me to play, based on my last season, I played mostly midfield and had some good games, obviously, or else they wouldn’t have signed me. Hopefully, I can be the running midfielder, the guy that works really hard from box to box and who likes to do the long runs. And also for me, it’s not important to be on the ball full-time, if I can make a long run to open up space for other players, that’s a part of my game.”

SOLLI JOINS THE RED BULLS: Red Bull New York announced the signing of Norwegian International midfielder Jan Gunnar Solli on Monday, Jan. 24. Solli will be added to the club’s roster pending receipt of his International Transfer Certificate.

“Jan is a player I have followed for several years and he will immediately compete for a place in our starting lineup,” said Red Bull New York General Manager and Sporting Director Erik Soler. “He has tremendous versatility and can play both in the midfield and in defense. We are excited that he has joined the Red Bulls.”

Solli, 29, started his professional career with Odd Grenland of the Norwegian Premier League in 2000. In four seasons with Odd Grenland, Solli appeared in 54 games. In 2003, he transferred to famed Norwegian side Rosenborg BK, where appeared in 85 matches from 2003 through 2006 and scored three goals. He helped the club win three Norwegian Premier League titles including back-to-back championships in 2003 and 2004, and another in 2006, while also capturing the Norwegian Cup in 2003. Solli also helped Rosenborg reach the Group Stage of the 2004-2005 UEFA Champions League, scoring in the first leg of the final qualifying stage series against Israel’s Maccabi Haifa FC.

Solli most recently featured for Norwegian club SK Brann. He played for the club from 2007 to 2010, appearing in 97 matches and scoring eight goals. In 2007, his first season with Brann, Solli helped the club to its first Norwegian Premier League title since 1963. Solli also helped the club reach the Round of 32 in the 2007-08 UEFA Cup.

Solli debuted for the Norwegian National Team on Aug. 20, 2003 in a friendly against Scotland, and has since gone on to earn 40 caps for his country. He scored his first senior international goal on April 28, 2004 in a 3-2 victory over Russia. He continues to earn call-ups to the national side, and last featured for Norway in a 2-1 victory over Iceland on Sept. 3, 2010 in a 2012 UEFA European Championship qualification match.

FORMER RED BULL ACADEMY PRODUCT KASSEL SIGNS: Red Bull New York announced on Jan. 25 that it signed Red Bull Academy product and University of Maryland midfielder Matt Kassel. Kassel, a Bridgewater, NJ native, becomes the third player from the Red Bull Academy to sign with the first team, joining current New York forwards Juan Agudelo and Giorgi Chirgadze.

“We believe that Matt has matured during his three years in college and has the potential to be a solid player for us,” said Red Bull New York Managing Director Erik Soler. “We are thrilled that we have come to an agreement with him and are pleased to add another former member of our academy.”

Kassel spent the past three years playing at the University of Maryland under Head Coach Sasho Cirovski. In his three years as a Terrapin, Kassel became one of the school’s top players, earning honors as an All-ACC First Team selection for the 2010 season. Kassel was also selected to the ACC All-Tournament Team. He started all 23 games for the Terps in 2010, and scored nine goals while leading the team with 11 assists.

As a sophomore in 2009, Kassel started all but one game for the Terps. His six assists led the team, and he added a goal in a four point effort versus Duquesne on Sept. 15. In his first year, Kassel was named the National Rookie of the Year by TopDrawerSoccer.com, and was named as an ACC All-Freshman Team selection. He scored one goal and ranked second on the team with seven assists while starting 19 games.

Prior to playing at the University of Maryland, Kassel was in the Red Bulls Academy, where he was a two-time Academy Player of the Year. His successes as a Red Bulls Academy member catapulted him as one of the top high school players in the country, as he scored 110 goals in four years at Bridgewater-Raritan High School. After his senior year, he was ranked as the No. 9 recruit in the nation by ESPN RISE Magazine, and was named the Gatorade Player of the Year for the state of New Jersey in 2007-08. Prior to his time at Maryland, Kassel also spent time with the United States Under-15 and Under-18 teams.

REAM, AGUDELO, MILLER COMPETE IN INTERNATIONAL PLAY: Three Red Bulls competed in international play last weekend, as defender Tim Ream and forward Juan Agudelo suited up for the United States while defender Roy Miller appeared for Costa Rica in it’s run to the final of the Central American Cup.

Ream earned his second cap for the United States, and was selected for the starting lineup again by head coach Bob Bradley for the Americans’ 1-1 draw versus Chile on Saturday, Jan. 22 at The Home Depot Center in Carson, CA. The Red Bulls Defender of the Year and MLS Rookie of the Year finalist played the full 90 minutes for the first time in his international career. Agudelo, who in his first senior national team appearance became the youngest person to ever score for the United States, also earned his second cap, coming on in the 60th minute for Brek Shea. With the United States trailing by a goal, it was Agudelo who was taken down in the box by Chilean defender Francisco Silva, leading to Teal Bunbury’s game-tying penalty.

Miller started in all four matches for his native Costa Rica in the Central American Cup, which concluded Sunday. In Friday’s semifinal, the defender converted the clinching penalty in the shootout to earn a victory over Panama, 1-1 (4-2), and a spot in the final. Miller played the full game in the title match versus Honduras, but the Ticos ultimately fell 2-1. The four appearances for Miller raised his cap count to 20.

SECOND DISPATCH SHOW ADDED AT RED BULL ARENA: Due to popular demand, Dispatch announced today that it will add a second show at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, NJ on June 17. Dispatch, which drew more than 110,000 people to their most recent hometown appearance at Boston’s Hatch Shell and was the first independent band ever to sell out New York City’s Madison Square Garden, a feat they repeated for three consecutive nights, will visit Red Bull Arena as part of a six-city nationwide tour in their first appearances since 2007. Dispatch’s other Red Bull Arena show on June 18 is nearly sold out. The concerts will the first in Red Bull Arena’s history.

Dispatch has taken the extraordinary step of setting ticket prices at $40 across the board. Tickets for the June 17 date go on sale to the general public at 12:00 PM ET on Friday, Jan. 28 at www.dispatchmusic.com. Fans are also invited to sign up at www.dispatchmusic.com for access to a special presale, which begins at 12:00 PM ET on Thursday, Jan. 27 and runs until the public onsale. 2011 Red Bulls Season Ticket Holders will have access to purchase tickets through the exclusive presale window without having to register online. For more information, call 1.877.RBSOCCER.

“We are thrilled to host Dispatch for a second night,” said Red Bull New York Managing Director Erik Stover. “The response to their tour in the New York and New Jersey area has been overwhelmingly positive. We are confident that we will be able to provide a premium environment for two great nights of music.”

Social responsibility has always been a major component of the Dispatch culture and this summer’s tour is no exception. This summer, the band will roll out their Amplifying Education campaign, which will focus on educational issues here in the United States. Not only will fifty cents from each ticket sold go to benefit education in each local market, but the band is planning additional programs to spotlight education in every market they visit.

Known as a band who attained superstar live status completely on their own terms, the members of Dispatch – Brad Corrigan, Pete Heimbold and Chad Urmston – released album after album on their own Bomber Records label, steering clear of the major label system and selling more than 600,000 albums. In the process the trio became true indie pioneers, building an enormous, passionate base of fans through the embrace of internet file sharing, word-of-mouth and constant touring.

The band’s career looked as if it would culminate in their historic show at Boston’s Hatch Shell, The Last Dispatch, which drew more than 110,000 people from 25 countries. Meant as the band’s farewell gig, the show was the largest independent music event in history. Then in 2007, inspired to reunite to raise money for charity projects in Zimbabwe, Dispatch played three sold out shows at Madison Square Garden. Both events were chronicled in successful film projects.

The band will enter the recording studio for the first time in 11 years to work on new material, some of which may appear in the set lists this summer and on a future release. The band has not released a studio album since 2000’s Who Are We Living For? In addition to their four studio albums, the band has a number of live albums, as well as a full length feature film, THE LAST DISPATCH.

The band is offering free downloads of their entire studio album catalog to fans who help get the word out about the summer tour. By following a few simple steps – including friending Dispatch on Facebook, following them on Twitter and sending five friends an email about the tour – fans will get a special code to enable the download of the band’s four studio albums. Complete details are available at www.dispatchmusic.com.

RED BULLS 2010 IN REVIEW: The 2010 season was a memorable one for the Red Bulls, as they began play in the brand new Red Bull Arena, and completed the best turnaround in league history. Red Bull Arena – the elite facility of its kind in North America – officially opened on March 20 with the Red Bulls earning a 3-1 win over Brazilian side, Santos FC. After finishing the 2009 season with the fewest points in the league, New York rebounded in 2010 by finishing first in the Eastern Conference. First year head coach Hans Backe’s revamped squad proved to be the stingiest defense in the East, conceding just 29 goals overall and a mere nine at home. The East title was just the second in franchise history, matching the 2000 squad’s crown.

2010 also marked the arrival of two international superstars to the Red Bulls. In July, the club welcomed French striker Thierry Henry, and less than a month later, his former Barcelona teammate and Mexican Captain Rafa Márquez joined the squad. Henry played in 11 matches in 2010, scoring twice and picking up three assists, while Márquez notched a goal and an assist in ten appearances. Both players were instrumental in helping the Red Bulls secure first place in the Eastern Conference down the stretch.

Two Red Bulls players found their club success in 2010 rewarded with their first call-ups to the United States National Team. Red Bulls Academy product Juan Agudelo and MLS Rookie of the Year candidate Tim Ream both made their international debuts on Nov. 17, 2010 in a friendly in Cape Town versus South Africa. Ream started the match and played 67 minutes, while Agudelo came off the bench and became the youngest player to score for the United States, as he tallied the winner in a 1-0 victory.

RED BULLS ADD TWO IN SUPPLEMENTAL DRAFT: Red Bull New York selected University of South Carolina goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer in the first round (4 th overall) and Princeton University defender Teddy Schneider in the second round (31 st overall) of Tuesday’s 2011 MLS Supplemental Draft. New York passed with its third round (49 th overall) selection.

During his four-year career at South Carolina, the 6-2, 194-pound Maurer started all 78 games for the Gamecocks, making a total of 318 saves in 7,284 minutes in net. The 22-year-old Lawrenceville, GA native finished his collegiate career with 28 shutouts, second in South Carolina history. Maurer was named to the 2010 All-Conference USA Second Team during his senior campaign in which he recorded nine shutouts and a career-high 2,028 minutes in net. In 2009 as a junior, Maurer played every minute in net for South Carolina and had a 1.22 goals against average to go along with five shutouts and being named to the All-Conference USA Third Team. In his first year in 2007, Maurer started all 19 games for the Gamecocks and recorded a 1.08 goals against average. He was also named Conference USA Freshman of the Year.

Schneider, a 5-6, 130-pound defender from Califon, NJ, played in 69 games, starting 65, during his four-year career with the Tigers. At Princeton, Schneider, who attended Delbarton School, registered seven goals and eight assists. Schneider was named to the Princeton Invitational All-Tournament Team during his junior and senior seasons for the Tigers. During his senior year, Schneider was named to the All-Ivy League Second Team after helping Princeton go 7-0 in conference games.

MLS VETERAN CAREY TALLEY ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT: Carey Talley, a 13-year MLS veteran who played for five different teams as a midfielder and defender, announced his retirement from professional soccer today. Talley, who ended his career with the New York Red Bulls, appeared in 315 regular season matches, making 262 starts. His 315 appearances ranked eighth all-time in MLS history.

“I would like to sincerely thank my family, all of my friends, and fans that have accompanied me throughout the last 13 years,” Talley said. “I am proud to have been a part of the growth of MLS from its infancy to a league that has become a destination for world-class players. What a privilege for me to have been given the opportunity to follow my dreams and go out and compete with my peers everyday to make myself a better player and person. I have moved coast to coast and back, I have had many, many great times with my teammates in each city, and I have learned valuable lessons that will certainly inspire me in the next chapter of my life. Because of an ongoing injury, I feel that it is in my best interest to walk away from the game, but will always continue to give back to the sport that I love so much.”

“During his short time with us, Carey was a true professional who provided us a wealth of experience both on and off the field,” said Red Bull New York General Manager and Sporting Director Erik Soler. “We want to congratulate Carey on having such a successful career and wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors.”

A former University of North Carolina product, Talley was originally drafted by D.C. United 14th overall in the 1998 MLS College Draft. He helped United to the 1998 CONCACAF Champions Cup and Interamerican Cup Championships during his rookie campaign, starting 16 of D.C.’s final 18 matches, and was a regular starter during United’s 1999 MLS Cup winning run.

Talley was in the nation’s capital until 2002, when he was traded to the Kansas City Wizards. The Memphis, TN native also played for FC Dallas, Real Salt Lake and Chivas USA before returning to United in March 2010. The Red Bulls acquired Talley on Sept. 15, 2010 in exchange for a 2011 MLS SuperDraft second round pick. During his career, Talley, who also represented the United States at several youth national team levels, recorded 20 goals and 28 assists in regular season play.