UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J. – The Red Bulls have finally landed their playmaker. The club announced on Tuesday morning that it acquired Mehdi Ballouchy from Colorado in a trade that sent Macoumba Kandji to the Rapids.
New York had been in discussion with the Rapids for more than a month about the move for Ballouchy, who is considered one of the more talented central players in the league.
Backe and general manager Erik Solér first saw Ballouchy this spring when the player was a substitute in a US Open Cup win by New York.
“I think and hope he will be the link between our midfield and our forwards,” Backe told the media on Tuesday morning.
The deal comes days after the Red Bulls beat the Rapids 3-1 at Red Bull Arena. Ballouchy hit the post in that game and Kandji made a second-half appearance as a substitute.
The move provides New York with a glut of options in their midfield, which boasts Barcelona midfielder and Mexican National Team captain Rafa Márquez, first-round selection Tony Tchani, former Welsh international Carl Robinson and stalwart presence Seth Stammler.
Backe ruled out moving Márquez to the back line – a position he has manned before with Mexico and while at Barcelona – and told MLSsoccer.com that the Mexican DP will continue to occupy the central midfield position.
The New York coach was unwilling to provide details about how he envisions using Ballouchy or who will end up sitting on the bench. While a diamond midfield with Ballouchy up top could be a possibility, Backe suggested, his newest player will jumpstart the attack from a high position.
“He can play wide and central, but I think his strength is central,” Backe said.
Given the recent form of right midfielder Dane Richards, who has been perhaps the best winger in the league the past month, and with the steady and solid play of Joel Lindpere on the other side, it seems Tchani would move to the bench.
“We have to wait and see,” Backe said.
Kristian R. Dyer can be reached at KristianRDyer@yahoo.com and followed at twitter.com/kdyer1012