Ibrahim's fate with Red Bulls up in the air

Forward dropped to recent reserves match against Chicago

One of the biggest question marks for the Red Bulls this season is who will line up alongside Thierry Henry as a second forward.

One player who may not be the answer to that question is Salou Ibrahim, the Ghanaian forward who came to the club last year with a decade of European experience in the Belgian first and second divisions and the 2. Bundesliga in Germany.

Ibhrahim started eight matches in 2010 and appeared in 19 overall for New York, but he struggled with injuries and never quite justified the hype that accompanied his arrival with the team.

Ibrahim’s 2011 fate may have become a bit clearer on Wednesday, when head coach Hans Backe started him in New York’s reserves match against Chicago in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., while opting to pair teenager Juan Agudelo with Henry in the first team’s 1-1 draw against the Fire.

Ibrahim was also subbed out during that reserves match for rookie Corey Hertzog, the Penn State product and Red Bulls SuperDraft pick who led the NCAA in goals last year.

Whether Tuesday’s match is any indication if the team will actually cut their losses with Salou, however, is unclear. When talking about Ibrahim on Monday, Backe said that he planned to run Ibrahim onto the field in Florida, but little else is certain.

The Red Bulls coach also downplayed any real overseas interest in Ibrahim, who last month was rumored to be in talks with European teams about a return across the Atlantic. Backe said there was never “concrete” interest from Europe, just “teams asking.”

A decision on Ibrahim could happen sooner rather than later, but Backe’s endorsement this week was less than glowing.

“Nothing has happened now,” Backe said. “I just keep going [with him], as he belongs to us.”

Kristian R. Dyer can be followed at twitter.com/KristianRDyer

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