UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J. – The Red Bulls brought in a right back, and potentially found a center midfielder instead. So says New York head coach Hans Backe.
Finnish international Teemu Tainio is in New Jersey with the club prior to the Red Bulls departure for Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., on Monday afternoon. Tainio, who joined the club in Mexico for preseason training, is still trialing with New York after being touted two weeks ago by Backe as a right back option who can push forward into the attack.
With experience having played for Tottenham and now with Ajax, it seemed as if Tainio was the final piece needed by the club to shore up their back line.
Not so fast, Backe says.
“[I brought him in] as an attacking fullback,” Backe said. “I will probably try to see him in a central midfield position in Ft. Lauderdale over the two games.”
Backe has been impressed with what he saw of Tainio during the player’s time in Mexico. As a potential central midfielder – “We can call him the holding midfielder even though I don’t like that term ‘holding,’” said Backe – the RBNY coach won’t pigeonhole Tainio to just one position. Versatility is a key reason why Backe is optimistic that he will bring the player aboard and the Red Bulls coach plans to tap into that.
“He’s a very good player, a class player,” Backe said on Monday. “Tons of experience in the Premier League. He’s definitely a player who can help us.”
There was nothing but praise from Tainio about his new teammates and the league he hopes to play in. Having had discussions with several players about the league, Tainio knew it “was a good league.” He’s hopeful of a long-term deal and is excited to potentially be playing in the midfield.
“If you want the best out of me, play me in the middle,” Tainio said. “But it’s not an issue to play me as a right back.”
Backe was thrilled with the effort given by Tainio, a player he says will give his full effort for the team and its fans and can play both ways. And Tainio is trying to free up his schedule a bit if he signs with the Red Bulls so that he can play more games for the club.
“If I sign here I will probably stop with the national team,” said Tainio, who has appeared 51 times with the Finnish national team.
Backe is hopeful that a contract with Tainio will be completed soon.
Kristian R. Dyer can be followed at twitter.com/KristianRDyer