Backe: "We need a strong physical back."
With the exception of multiple rumors concerning outgoing players, it has been an exceptionally quiet offseason for the New York Red Bulls. But now, only one working day into 2012, things appear to be picking up. Via several sources in Sweden, the Red Bulls are on the verge of their first major addition of the winter, central defender Markus Holgersson of reigning Swedish champions Helsingborg IF. Hans Backe has confirmed the deal just this afternoon in an interview with FotballsExpressen.se (full translation here):
It's a good acquisition for us. I've had good scores on Mark by [retired Swedish international] Jesper Jansson and we need a strong physical back to our team. I talked to our general manager a while ago and he said then that Mark had accepted. It remains a visa and little else, but I expect him, says Backe.
In addition to the 2011 Allsvenksan title, Holgersson has won two Swedish Cups and a Swedish Super Cup during his three seasons with Helsingborg, a club that soccer fans may recognize through its long association with legendary striker Henrik Larsson. Holgersson also chipped in with five goals for HIF. For a Red Bulls defense that has contributed almost nothing to the attack over the past two seasons, any additional scoring threat is welcome. But most Red Bulls fans will be hoping first and foremost for steadiness in defense, especially on set pieces, a major Achilles' heel in 2010.
Erik Solér and Backe have talked repeatedly about the need to add physicality and depth to a defense that struggled mightily last season. The addition of Holgersson would appear to be a positive first step in that direction.