New York Red Bulls: What to watch as training camp begins

Thierry Henry
Thierry Henry spent the offseason before his year under contract on loan with Arsenal.
Credit: Getty Images

There were no major offseason overhauls following the Red Bulls’ first-ever season with hardware. Instead, the team looked to add depth for what will be a very busy 2014 season.

The Red Bulls captured their first major trophy in franchise history last year, taking the Supporters Shield for for the best record in MLS. As such, sporting director Andy Roxburgh and head coach Mike Petke worked on a tight budget under the league’s strict salary cap and sought to round out their roster with mid-priced acquisitions.

The Red Bulls do have a grueling MLS season, plus they will participate in the CONCACAF Champions League and the U.S. Open Cup this year, making for a crowded schedule. Their depth will be further tested with the likely loss of Tim Cahill (Australia) and Roy Miller (Costa Rica) in this summer’s World Cup.

“Of course it’s going to challenge our depth and it’s going to come down to me communicating with the players,” Petke said. “And if we have a mid-week game and a Champions League, or an Open Cup game and then a game on the weekend, players will be rotated and it really is not going to come down to all the time what’s more important — it’s going to be what’s necessary. So it’s going to be a challenge but I think we’re up for this challenge.”

Five things to look for during Red Bulls training camp …

1. The right back battle

The difficult decision was made this offseason to release Brandon Barklage, the athletic right back who had been the starter for the better part of the past two seasons. Kosuke Kimura returns as depth at the position but he will be strongly challenged for the starting job by the recently acquired Richard Eckersley. The Englishman is solid and knows MLS well, with 92 appearances over the past three seasons. He is relatively solid defensively and moves well into the attack.

2. Robles returns

Luis Robles really came into his own with the Red Bulls, finishing third in the league in saves last year. He has a healthy Ryan Meara to challenge him from the get-go this year, but Robles should have the nod heading into preseason. “Nothing changed for me,” Robles said. “I just want to help the team whatever way I can.” A source tells Metro the U.S. national team is tracking Robles and has been in contact with club management about him. More strong play and he could be well positioned for a call-up over the next year.

3. Sekagya’s second chance

It might be too late to have a first impression, with a bad giveaway in the playoffs playing a large part in the Red Bulls’ exit last year. But this preseason is crucial for Ugandan international Ibrahim Sekagya. He never had a chance to acclimate with the team after being signed midseason and appeared rusty. But this year he will enter as one of two starting centerbacks so the margin of error will be slim. He must be rock solid from the start.

4. Convey’s role

Bobby Convey, acquired in a trade this offseason, brings World Cup experience and plenty of seasons in MLS to New York. But while he has made his living at left midfield, he told reporters recently he can also be used in the center of the midfield for the Red Bulls and that the coaching staff seems to like him there. Convey’s versatility and international experience can only be an asset to the club this year, no matter the position.

5. Playing with Henry

It is a given that Thierry Henry will be one of the starting forwards this year, in what will be his final year under contract in MLS. But who partners with him is a mystery. Bradley Wright-Phillips, acquired last summer, showed flashes but didn’t produce much and Peguy Luyindula looked better suited for the midfield. So perhaps midfielder Cahill, strong in the air and with great movement, is the most logical of fits. He has been very effective up top in the past and would be required to do less running as a forward than in the midfield.

Follow Red Bulls writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

MAP: New York City Street Closures August 22,…

The Percy Sutton Harlem 5K and NYC Family Health Walk-a-thon and Pakistan Day Parade and Fair will cause traffic delays and street closures in New York City this weekend. Plan…

International

U.N. nuclear inquiry on Iran seen making slow…

The U.N. nuclear watchdog appears to have made only limited progress so far in getting Iran to answer questions about its suspected atomic bomb research, diplomatic sources said on Friday,…

National

Violence-weary Missouri town sees second night of calm

By Nick Carey and Carey GillamFERGUSON Mo. (Reuters) - The violence-weary town of Ferguson, Missouri, saw a second straight evening of relative calm on Thursday…

National

Journalist James Foley's parents, after call with pope,…

The parents of James Foley, the American journalist killed by Islamic State militants in Iraq, on Friday called for prayer and support to free the remaining captives held by Islamic…

Television

Recap: 'The Knick,' Season 1, Episode 3, 'The…

The third episode of Steven Soderbergh's "The Knick" finds Dr. Thackery (Clive Owen) meeting an old flame and other characters embracing self-destruction.

Music

Webcast: Watch Polyphonic Spree live on Sunday Aug.…

Polyphonic Spree singer Tim DeLaughter sits with Metro Music Editor Pat Healy for a chat and then the big band performs live. It begins on Sunday at 9:30 pm

Movies

Matthew Weiner on directing 'Are You Here' and…

"Mad Men" creator Matthew Weiner discusses his movie "Are You Here," his history writing comedy and the tiny movie he directed in 1996 you can't see.

Movies

Michael Chiklis on his football past and 'When…

Michael Chiklis remembers playing football in high school and how that prepped him to play a coach in "When the Game Stands Tall."

NFL

3 things we learned about the Giants in…

The Giants claimed the Snoopy trophy in a battle of MetLife Stadium tenants Friday night. But more importantly, the offense finally showed some life in…

NFL

3 things we learned about the Jets in…

The Jets lost the Snoopy Bowl, 35-24, to the Giants, losing the trophy and local bragging rights.

NFL

Fantasy football draft guide: How to draft your…

Many are wondering if we’re entering a new age in fantasy football drafting — one where running backs take a backseat.

NFL

Jets vs. Giants: 3 Giants storylines to watch

The Giants have plenty to work on as they reach the dress rehearsal preseason game Friday night against the rival Jets.

Wellbeing

Asics is giving away free gear around NYC…

Asics wants to see you on the court - and in the stands for the U.S. Open, which begins Monday - by giving away free…

Sex

Big weddings may lead to long-term happiness

Dreaming of a big wedding? A new study indicates that the longer your guest list, the happier you’ll be in the long run. l A…

Sex

Online dating for every generation

Frank Jackson and his mother Maggie are like lots of modern families: They have dinner together regularly, keep each other updated on their lives —…

Wellbeing

Going green could be the key to getting…

If we could just pursue the things that would actually make us happy, we could help the environment too, according to a New York researcher.…

Comments

1