In the club's first season under Hans Backe and Erik Soler, the New York Red Bulls used the summer transfer window to bring in international stars Thierry Henry and Rafa Marquez. With the Red Bulls having won just twice in league play since April 30 this season, a lot of attention was on the club's front office to see what moves they would make to get New York back on track for the playoffs and potential run for the MLS Cup.
First, the Red Bulls brought in goalkeeper Frank Rost from Bundesliga club Hamburg on a free transfer (his contract had expired) and used their third and final designated player slot to lure him in without completely decimating the team's already tight salary cap.
Next, right before the window closed the Red Bulls traded their second round draft pick in 2013 for out-of-favor Sporting Kansas City midfielder Stéphane Auvray. Auvray was brought in to provide much needed depth as Hans Backe's only option behind Teemu Tainio and Dax McCarty was Mehdi Ballouchy - Joel Lindpere's absence on the left wing when moved to the center of the field was detrimental to the team both times Backe tried moving him.
On the departures side, the Red Bulls gave up Austin da Luz to DC United for an international roster spot to make the Rost deal possible and loaned an unhappy Greg Sutton to the Montreal Impact for the remainder of the season. From a pure player-for-player perspective, the moves improved the club, especially with news that left-winger Brian Nielsen may be able to rejoin the club for the final stretch of the season.
Rost did not have an eventful first match against Chivas USA, but then allowed four goals against Colorado. To be fair, Rost was brought in for his experience and ability to keep defenders organized for his previous clubs - two things that can take more than a couple of games to carry over to a new club. He looked good during the Emirates Cup as the Red Bulls posted a win and a tie against Paris Saint-Germain and Arsenal, respectively, but somehow picked up a leg injury that developed into a quadriceps tear against Real Salt Lake.
Auvray, on the other hand, is healthy and available for minutes. Backe turned to the new acquisition quickly bringing Auvray off the bench in his first match in the sixtieth minute along with Juan Agudelo for Dax McCarty and Mehdi Ballouchy. Even in his debut, Auvray was able to contribute to New York's attack without being caught out of position or carelessly giving away possession.
For many New York supporters, the bar is set low for Auvray, as he only has to be an improvement over the struggling Mehdi Ballouchy to be deemed a successful acquisition. But while Rost seems to have been brought in as more of a short-term solution, it will be interesting to see if New York has Auvray in their plans for 2012 and beyond.
Rost is expected to return before the end of the season and developing that communication with a backline desperate for organization will not be any easier as he is currently forced to watch from the sidelines. If he comes back and the Red Bulls defense is able to return to their early season form, the Rost signing should be considered a success.
And for those clamoring for more changes to be made, keep in mind that while the transfer window is closed, MLS teams can continue to make trades through September 15 when rosters need to be finalized (it wasn't until mid-September last season that New York traded for Mehdi Ballouchy and DC United defender Carey Talley).
What do you think about New York's transfer window move? What's a trade or upgrade you'd still like to see the team pull off before September 15?