For the past several weeks, New York head coach Hans Backe has been downplaying his team’s recent success. Given a strong string of results over the past seven games, the Red Bulls looked from the outside like a team that could make a run at the MLS Cup. When asked if he sees his team morphing from pretenders to contenders, Backe always remains firm in saying that the goal is the playoffs and he doesn’t see New York as cup-ready.
Well, actions might just speak louder than Backe’s words in this instance.
On Wednesday afternoon, the Red Bulls traded a draft pick to D.C. United to obtain defender Carey Talley, signaling a new era for the club. This isn’t a move of desperation or a salary dump, this was a trade made to bolster the team before the post-season push. With a 3-1 win over Colorado on Saturday afternoon, New York essentially booked their playoff ticket and now this move is designed to keep them around a little longer in the post-season.
The move to snag Talley signals that the Red Bulls think they are more than just a playoff team - by adding Talley and trading for playmaker Mehdi Ballouchy earlier this week – team management must sense that the club is close to challenging the likes of Los Angeles, Columbus and Real Salt Lake for a shot at the cup. Talley adds some veteran poise and presence to the team, a player who is seventh all-time in league appearances and who has won the MLS Cup not to mention the CONCACAF Champions Cup and the Interamerican Cup while with D.C. United.
Talley joins an already solid backline that is performing very well and has become perhaps the toughest back four to break down in MLS this season. While he may not start over Carlos Mendes or Tim Ream, Talley’s versatility and calming presence should be welcome come the playoffs, and there are few defenders in the league you’d want coming into a match off the bench in a tight match than Talley.
Clearly, giving up a conditional second-round pick to nab Talley shows that the Red Bulls’ brain trust firmly believes that they have a team right now that can compete and win. This wasn’t a move about tomorrow but a move for today. For that reason alone, Red Bulls’ fans should rejoice and welcome their newest addition.
Kristian Dyer is a reporter for MLSSoccer.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs. He can be reached for comment at KristianRDyer@yahoo.com and followed at twitter.com/kdyer1012.