HANOVER, N.J. – There was no shortage of interest in David Carney from clubs around the world for much of the past year, but the reason he refrained from signing a deal for so long was because none of them offered exactly what he was looking for.
That is, until the New York Red Bulls came calling.
After spending nearly a full 12 months without a club after a wage dispute with his last team, Carney signed with the Red Bulls earlier this month. The 29-year-old Australian international agreed to a deal on Aug. 8, a move that gave New York the versatile player they were looking for, one that was capable of filling in at left back and left midfield, and Carney an opportunity to end a spell of inactivity that dated back to the day after a World Cup qualifier with the Socceroos on Sept. 11, 2012.
“It was more my choice [to be out of action for so long] because I got offered a lot of clubs back home in Australia, but nothing really seemed to come up that I liked,” Carney told MLSsoccer.com after practice on Thursday. “I got a couple of offers from clubs around Europe as well, like Denmark and Romania, but nothing really took my liking. I didn’t really want to fall back into a position of Uzbekistan, like my last club [Bunyodkor], so the longer it went on the [more] frustrating it got.
“I just was waiting for something to give my all for and I think New York is the one place for me.”
It might seem like the Red Bulls took a gamble signing the 2010 World Cup veteran late in MLS’ summer transfer window, but New York actually made an attempt to bring him in earlier in the year.
About four months ago, Carney claims that Red Bulls technical director Ricardo Campos reached out to him in an effort to add the Australian to a squad whose left-sided starters are the solid-but-unspectacular Jonny Steele and oft-absent Costa Rica international Roy Miller. But Carney held off from joining New York for one reason: he wasn't sure if it was the right move at the time.
“I got interest from the club, but I got an interest from another club as well, so it was sort of stuck in two minds,” said Carney, who later revealed that the other club was in the Middle East and that he also received interest from teams in the English Championship. “I spoke with Ricardo and he told me that they wanted me to come and they spoke with the Aussie coach [Holger Osleck] and obviously Tim Cahill and then it sort of just got delayed and it came back up again.”
While most pundits and fans will think it was Cahill who convinced the Red Bulls’ brass to bring Carney in, it was actually both players' international boss. Sporting director Andy Roxburgh is quite familiar with Osleck, and the two had conversations in which the Socceroos manager sang Carney's praises.
“[Osleck] spoke highly of me,” Carney said. “Obviously, Timmy helped along, but I’ve played with Timmy quite a while so obviously I think he probably could deal with my crosses and score a few goals.”
Crossing is just one of the things Carney is being counted upon to deliver. The Red Bulls hope he can also provide another weapon out wide, especially in the face of their recent offensive struggles.
Naturally, Carney’s fitness has come into question after a near-year-long layoff. But the Australian, who describes himself as a pacey, direct player that is stronger at left midfield than left back, claims he is in shape and just needs games to get back into a rhythm.
That might be hard to come by this late in the year. The Red Bulls are in the home stretch of their season, which means there isn't a lot of time left for Carney to make an impression before New York’s probable playoff run.
“I think he needs to get more acclimated, in game shape,” Petke told MLSsoccer.com on Thursday. “I don’t expect to bring him to LA this weekend, but I definitely look for him to be available and ready, if all goes well, for the D.C. [United] game”