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New York Red Bulls Undergo a Week of Comings, Goings, and Rumors of More

(Photo by Catalina Fragoso - Double G Media)

(Photo by Catalina Fragoso – Double G Media)

A week ago, the New York Red Bulls, along with the other 21 Major League Soccer clubs, convened in Los Angeles for the SuperDraft. The draft, though, was just one part of what became a very busy — and stressful, in the case of the supporters — week for the New York Red Bulls, in which unexpected rumors and departures bookended an unofficial beginning to the MLS preseason.

Welcome to the New Kids

The Red Bulls had three picks in the four SuperDraft rounds, holding the number 17 pick as their first. First came Zeiko Lewis, a midfielder from Boston College, who gave the afternoon’s most entertaining speech. At first thanking the Red Bulls “for having faith in me” and then remarking, “at least someone at this draft does,” Lewis ran through a group of thank yous to coaches, friends, and family. Before leaving the podium, though, he issued a warning: “Being selected this late isn’t the end of the world. It just makes me have to show everybody that I’m going to prove you guys wrong for drafting me this late.”

After drafting Lewis, Red Bulls head coach Jesse Marsch did not have a problem with Lewis’ speech, saying “he clearly has a personality,” before commenting on Lewis’ athleticism, “his ability to run, his ability to close things down” and how that fits the pressing style that Marsch’s team plays. Lewis was a productive midfielder at BC, scoring 18 times and notching 26 assists, a school record, in his time there. The midfielder is also a Bermudan international, having been capped nine times by his national team.

Lewis was the only one of his new teammates to make a speech, as the Red Bulls’ second round pick, Ethan Kutler from Colgate University, did not attend the draft. Despite playing as a forward in his collegiate career, Marsch said he and his staff will look at Kutler’s ability at right back once preseason training begins.

In the third round of the SuperDraft, which took place via conference call four days later, the Red Bulls selected Iona College defender Jordan Scarlett. Scarlett, named to the All-MAAC First Team as a senior, joins the defensively light Red Bulls, who only have two center backs currently on contract.

These players will most likely get minutes with the Red Bulls’ United Soccer League team, New York Red Bulls II, before any possible first team minutes.

Say Goodbye to the Captain

The night before the second phase of the SuperDraft, the Red Bulls announced that Dax McCarty, who is tied for the most regular season appearances for the club after joining in June of 2011, had been traded away to the Chicago Fire. In exchange, New York received $400,000 in General Allocation Money.

McCarty, the club’s captain for the last two seasons, had seen his quality dip last season after recovering from injuries, while Sean Davis held his own while serving as his replacement. Marsch wished McCarty well in a statement released by the club, saying “He will go down as one of the best players and captains in franchise history. At this point in time, we felt that this was the right move to put our team in the best position to succeed both now and for years to come.”

The following day, Red Bulls forward Bradley Wright-Phillips spoke about the trade to ESPN, saying “Dax is a player you can’t replace, and I’m not talking about football-wise, just everything he’s done for that team in the changing room, on and off the field.” Wright-Phillips also said that McCarty is “obviously hurt,” and that the news took them both by surprise, in addition to other players around the league.

The club has not yet named a new captain.

More Departures to Come?

Over the last two weeks, the Red Bulls have battled rumors of two outgoings: their head coach and their Sporting Director.

The week of the SuperDraft saw head coach Marsch show up late to the festivities in Los Angeles, missing the Combine, where the college players showed their skills before being drafted. Rumor had it he was being offered the Red Bull Salzburg job, who are owned by Red Bull, just as the New York Red Bulls are. Chris Armas, the current assistant coach in New York, became the reported favorite to replace Marsch, with fellow assistant coach Denis Hamlett taking on the role of technical director. Eventually, the New York Red Bulls issued a statement saying Marsch was still the coach, and Marsch himself showed up in Los Angeles, ending that rumor for the time being.

When one rumor ended, though, another started, as Sporting Director Ali Curtis abruptly left Los Angeles the morning before Marsch arrived, culminating in speculation about Curtis’ employment. Reports on Tuesday suggested Curtis had been fired from his post, though the Red Bulls have since stated, through a spokesperson, that Curtis still holds his job.

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Pardeep is the New York Red Bulls Beat Writer for while also covering other soccer teams and events.
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