An Introduction, With Some Off-Season News And Notes

Greetings, fellow Red Bulls fans.  I'm Ben Schneider, and I'll be the main voice here on Once a Metro for the next few months, hopefully longer.  I've been a Red Bulls fan since 2007 and I've been going to games regularly since the following season.  I also cover the Bundesliga for SBNation Soccer, and in real life I'm an undergrad at Cornell. 

I'll have some season review pieces over the next few weeks, but there have been some goings-on since our horribly anticlimactic end to the season against San Jose.

First, some congratulations are in order for the Colorado Rapids and Macoumba Kandji, in spite of the dire stuff they played in the Cup Final.  Commiserations to Dallas, who were the better side for almost the whole game but came up just a bit short.  In spite of some of the bad blood between us after the feisty encounter between RBNY and FCD down in Frisco, Schellas Hyndman has done a great job there and they play some pretty good football.

Back over in Harrison, we've had the beginnings of winter transfers and some draft business.  We traded Jeremy Hall to the Portland Timbers in exchange for a third-round draft pick - a pretty shrewd move as Hall would likely have been taken in the Expansion Draft. 

We didn't lose any players in the Expansion Draft (probably as a result of that trade), but three of our players will be up for grabs in the Re-Entry Draft.  The legend that is Juan Pablo Ángel, and the less legendary Luke Sassano and Carey Talley will all be moving on.  Unfortunately for us, there isn't a whole lot out there to pick up (the thirty-five player list can be found here), and I suspect any one we do bring in will be squad filler, or perhaps a third-choice goalkeeper.

Plenty has already been written about the departure of Ángel, but after some time to consider it, I support what the front office has chosen to do, although I wish they had gone about it differently.  Juan Pablo is our all-time leading goalscorer, a club legend, and provided me with almost all of my best moments as a Red Bulls supporter.  He has my thanks not only for his performances on the pitch, but his excellent, professional attitude -- he is what a captain should be. 

However, I think we saw down the stretch this season that he wasn't able to play at the same level as he has in years past, or even as he had been in the early months of the season.  Further, given the spectacular emergence of Juan Agudelo, we should have one of the best forward pairings in the league, even without Ángel.  The front office should have told him much earlier that they were looking to go in a new direction, and I wish Juan Pablo the best, particularly that he doesn't end up playing for D.C. or Philly.

Outside of the crazy MLS world of fifty thousand drafts (I wonder if there will be a bloggers' draft soon?), there has been some general transfer speculation and business going on.  Joel Lindpere was linked to Bolton Wanderers, but that rumour was squashed by Erik Soler.  It also looks like the transfers of Jan Gunnar Solli and Luke Rodgers are all but completed, and that we're still looking around for some more signings.

We've also been linked with University of Maryland midfielder Matt Kassel, who came up through our academy system.  This one seems like a no-brainer to me, as he'll likely be on a Generation adidas contract and therefore not count against the salary cap. There's also been a lot of speculation about new, dedicated training facilities, which would be fantastic both for the current players and in recruiting new talent.

That should be about it for this week; as I said I'll be working through some season review pieces over the next few weeks while keeping up with the Re-Entry Draft and SuperDraft.  'Til then, I welcome your comments here and on Twitter as @benmschneider, and I invite you to check our our regular soccer coverage on sbnation.com/soccer.

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