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Red Bulls prepare for Thursday's MLS SuperDraft

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Following the first two match-days of the 2014 MLS Combine, New York Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke felt confident about the chances of one of the two players his club had identified slipping to the 22nd pick in Thursday’s MLS SuperDraft (telecast live on ESPNews at 12:00 PM).

Then, those players delivered solid Day 3 performances that drew the attention of other coaches and scouts and left Petke feeling less optimistic about landing them.

The Red Bulls’ brass was in relative obscurity during the recently-concluded combine – choosing to watch all of the action over the course of the three match-days inside of the two-story building at Central Broward Regional Park instead of on the outdoor bleachers – and part of it may have been because it had a trickier proposition than most others. Namely, New York was not scouting for a first-round pick.

Rather, the Red Bulls were trying to find a diamond in the rough, one that had upside but likely would not be taken prior to their first selection in the second round. New York initially pinpointed a couple of players they believed had a good chance of slipping to them, but those MLS hopefuls’ performance on Tuesday morning changed the club’s mindset.

“Unfortunately, two of the guys that we were hoping would fall through, which we were very confident that they would fall through, I’m not sure now,” Petke told MLSsoccer.com Tuesday. “We’re going from a position of need to now we’re looking at other positions that we possibly don’t need so much.  But we don’t see anything besides that one player identified in that position we needed, so we’re all over the place in our analysis.”

While Petke did not disclose the identities of the two players he and the Red Bulls staff were looking at, it is likely at least one of them is a center back. New York currently only have three central defenders on their roster, one of them being inexperienced teenager Matt Miazga, and centerback is the position largely considered the deepest in this draft class.

Still, the Red Bulls do not sound like a team that is banking on being able to draft one of those defenders. In fact, Petke labeled his club’s chances of doing so as a “coin flip”.

‘They’re big boys. There are some big boys here and that doesn’t hurt,” said Petke. “They are good in the air some players, some are decent building out of the back with the ball at their feet. I think it’s going to be [mostly] centerback picks in top 20.”

Of course, the Red Bulls could attempt to move up in the draft order to try and land one of their targeted players. That, however, is unlikely given that New York do not seem willing to part ways with any of their assets, be it allocation money, a player or other draft picks.

“I don’t think we’ll be trading [up] to a pick, unless we would do pick for pick, but why would a team do that?” said Petke. “Like I said, what could we possibly get that justifies moving [up] earlier. That’s no disrespect to some of the players at all, because I think that top 10 you’re going to have some players that are going to develop into very good players and be a part of MLS for a long time, perhaps even more.

“But it’s just not a comfortable feeling right now to do something like that.”


Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached by email at Franco8813@gmail.com.