Red Bulls Looking to Build Chemistry, Round Out Roster in Preseason

Three things to watch for as RBNY begins preparations for 2014 campaign

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USA Today Sports Images

Coming off their 2013 MLS Supporters’ Shield winning season, the New York Red Bulls will begin their preparations for the 2014 season tomorrow, when the team meets at Red Bull Arena for the start of the preseason.

The squad departs on Monday for their first preseason trip of the year in Orlando. In the lead-up to the Red Bulls’ season opener on March 8 against Vancouver Whitecaps FC, here are three things to keep an eye on:

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1) Keeping the core intact

The Red Bulls retained many of their contributors from last year’s Supporters’ Shield run, actively attempting to keep some form of roster consistency heading into the 2014 season.

New York’s current active roster is as follows (24 players):

Goalkeepers (3): Santiago Castano, Ryan Meara, Luis Robles

Defenders (6): Kosuke Kimura, Connor Lade, Matt Miazga, Roy Miller, Jamison Olave, Ibrahim Sekagya

Midfielders (10): Eric Alexander, Ruben Bover, Michael Bustamante, Tim Cahill, Ian Christianson, Bobby Convey, Dax McCarty, Marius Obekop, Lloyd Sam, Jonny Steele

Forwards (5): Andre Akpan, Thierry Henry, Peguy Luyindula, Amando Moreno, Bradley Wright-Phillips

Newest signing Armando will be added to New York’s active roster once he passes a physical and the club receives his P-1 Visa and International Transfer Certificate while 2014 MLS SuperDraft picks Chris Duvall and Eric Stevenson will look to earn a contract in camp. The Red Bulls, which signed a number of players to new contracts in the offseason including Alexander, Robles and Miller, return 23 players from 2013, including 10 of 11 which scored a goal during the regular season.

“It’s been almost a cliché about the New York organization over the years having an overhaul in the offseason, and that’s something I want to get away from,” said head coach Mike Petke back in December. “We have good chemistry and a good returning core. There’s no reason to mix it up just for the sake of it.”

The preseason will offer Petke and his players a prime opportunity to continue building on this chemistry on and off the field heading into 2014. 

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2) The newcomers and fitting in

Aside from Duvall, Stevenson and Armando, the Red Bulls acquired former U.S. National Team midfielder Bobby Convey from Toronto FC to provide another option on the left side of midfield. Convey’s experience and technical ability will help New York, providing another option for the Red Bulls' already potent attack that led the League in goals last year.

In addition, history tells us that the club could potentially make impactful additions to the squad in preseason. Alexander and Steele were acquired during preseason last year while forward Peguy Luyindula was signed before the start of the year. All three players had a positive effect in New York’s run last year.

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-       READ: Red Bulls acquire Convey

3) Building depth

With the Red Bulls potentially missing players due to upcoming FIFA windows and the World Cup as well as the specter of playing in multiple competitions (MLS regular season, U.S. Open Cup, CONCACAF Champions League), they will need contributions from every squad player. New York boasts four young academy players with another year under their belt (Casano, Lade, Miazga, Moreno) as well as others (Bover, Bustamante, Christianson, Obekop) who will be looking to make an impact in their second MLS season.

In addition, the club will likely bring in trialists and guest players to provide competition and help round out an already experienced roster.

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For the most updated preseason schedule, click here. Make sure you stayed logged onto newyorkredbulls.com for the most updated information.