"To obtain someone of Heath’s pedigree and gain substantial financial considerations, we had to trade Juan – an exciting player with potential.''
Regardless of your take on the issue, whether you loathe it, or you're taking the Pro Soccer Talk and Dave Martinez route on things, this trade was huge for the Red Bulls. There are a ton of facets through which to view this deal and there are still a ton of questions to be answered about this deal.
So let's take a look at them, because this is a blog, and what do blogs do better than baseless speculation, rumor mongering and over-analysis?
Did Agudelo really want out?
If Erik Soler is to be believed Agudelo wanted this, though, you have to wonder if the 19-year-old is ready for it. If you take Soler at his word and couple that with Martinez's tweet that Agudelo seemed down about the trade, the thought has to occur that Agudelo and his agent were bluffing on wanting to leave. Either that, or Agudelo thought he'd be headed to a higher caliber team than Chivas USA. Or that he'd end up overseas, not on the West Coast.
Will Wilman Conde's arrest be problematic?
Pearce can play anywhere along the backline and Markus Holgersson has been wearing the captain's armband in recent games. Connor Lade has earned praise and Roy Miller seems like one of Backe's boys. At right back Brandon Barklage has been a revelation and Jan Gunnar Solli could see his playing time take a hit, too.
Basically, at full strength, the Red Bulls have a pretty solid back line. So who is going to take a seat? And more pressing, this isn't just a depth move, as Pearce looks to be in the starting XI, so is Conde's arrest over the weekend going to create legal problems for him? Is it possible an overzealous State Department -- see: Luke Rodgers -- will seek to deport the centerback?
Is another deal imminent?
Rafael Marquez, disciplinary issues and all, seemed like he would be a prime target for Chivas, Atlas connections notwithstanding. When the trade rumors first surfaced, it was Pearce for Marquez, not Pearce for Agudelo. And today wasn't the first time that rumor's been kicked around.
Add to that a glut at left back with Miller, Lade and Pearce (if Pearce is to play left back in New York) and it increasingly looks like a package deal with Miller or Lade and Marquez could be made. Or maybe even two separate deals.
Are the Red Bulls trying to recreate the 2009 and 2010 FC Dallas teams?
Probably not, but it's interesting that in the last year the Red Bulls have acquired Dax McCarty, who played in Dallas in 2009 and 2010, Kenny Cooper who played for FC Dallas from 2006 to 2009 and Pearce who played for the team in 2009 and 2010.
Just where the hell will Pearce play?
Pearce can play as a fullback or a centerback, or, as Soler put it five or six positions.
We have a situation with Wilman Conde where he’s been out injured for a long time. We don’t want to push him, so he (Pearce) can play as a left central defender. Roy Miller has an issue with his knee, so he can play there. And of course young Connor Lade had done fantastic. And he’s a left fullback that can also go further up the field, so it gives us another option. Heath Pearce can play right fullback, he can do that well. We think he can certainly play central midfield as a defensive holding guy if we want to put Rafa Marquez somewhere else, or play Dax McCarty higher up the pitch. Defensively I think already we will see how Hans chooses to play Heath Pearce. We will see very quickly that he will help us in that part of our game. And also, he’s a very good guy on the ball, so we also adds to the fact that he tries ot keep the ball and spread it around.
So about that forwards thing...
This touches on the third point about another deal, but Backe's been fond of saying he needs four forwards over the course of a season. Well, the only forwards on the roster who have played 90 minutes in MLS are Thierry Henry and Coooper. Jhonny Arteaga has earned himself a few minutes here and there, but he's mostly been used as a kill-the-clock sub. The same goes for Corey Hertzog, only all his MLS minutes came in 2011.
So unless Backe has decided, rather miraculously, that he trusts young, unproven Americans (hey, maybe those clean sheets did something for him), Soler is going to need to pick up not one, but two forwards to meet Backe's quota.
Did the Red Bulls just build for the future?
Ok, trading a 19-year-old for a 27-year-old doesn't seem like a move for the future, even if you include all the allocation money and a cut of Agudelo's potential transfer fee, but it's no secret Agudelo's ambitions lie in Europe. He spoke rather glowingly of his training stint with Liverpool. And Liverpool made a bid for him, one that the league ultimately denied.
In a way, the Red Bulls got the best of both worlds with this one. They'll a piece of the transfer fee, but they'll also get a pretty good defender and one that's unlikely to bolt across the Atlantic.
What does this mean for the academy?
As of today, neither of the Red Bulls first two academy signings play for the team. Giorgi Chirgadze was called into training camp, but wasn't signed, and Agudelo has been traded.
If you're Wesley Wade, one of the better young prospects in the country, what kind of message does this send?