In a shocking move, the Red Bulls traded promising teenage striker Juan Agudelo to Chivas USA on Thursday afternoon in exchange for defender Heath Pearce. The move was broken by Pearce, who tweeted about the move to New York.
The 19-year-old Agudelo was seen as the future of not just the franchise but also the United States national team. The prospect out of the Red Bulls Academy was signed two years ago and had become a regular in the lineup and a key contributor to New York. Now, Agudelo has been dealt to help shore up a Red Bulls backline with Pearce, who is considered one of the best defenders in MLS.
Red Bulls sporting director Erik Soler said that the club wanted to give Agudelo the chance to develop more while making a move to bolster their starting lineup.
“In our discussions with Juan, he voiced that he wanted to have more time playing first team soccer and even explore the option of moving to another team. We wanted to help him achieve this goal and further develop his career,” Soler said.
“It has been rewarding to watch Juan develop both as a player and a person within our Academy and first team and we think that playing for Chivas USA will be a great new opportunity for his career. We wish him the best of luck in the future.”
Though he turns 20 in November, Agudelo has already made 33 MLS appearances and 13 starts. He’s scored six goals in his young career and will help a Chivas USA team that has struggled to find the back of the net.
The Los Angeles-based club is tied at the bottom of the league with just six goals this season.
In Pearce, the Red Bulls add a talented defender who can play centrally or at left back and moves well into the attack. It is nonetheless a puzzling move, given the club’s three shutouts over their past four games as the defense wasn’t a major area of concern.
In addition to Pearce, the Red Bulls also received allocation money and future considerations in the deal.
“Heath is a very talented and versatile defender who will bring immediate experience to our defense. We have been long-time fans of his game and think that he will be an important player in our squad,” Soler said.
“In addition, we obtained a significant amount of financial flexibility moving forward with this trade. It was a deal we could not turn down.”
Follow Red Bulls beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.