Filling Out the Roster for 2013

New addition Fabian Espindola will soon have a lot more teammates as the Red Bulls turn to filling out their roster. - Steven Bisig-US PRESSWIRE

With a Head Coach announcement expected later this week, the off-season focus shifts back to open roster spots.

With a new head coach seemingly in place to lead the team in 2013 and beyond, attention now turns to the New York Red Bulls roster with players set to report for preseason camp in less than one week. There was no doubt that a new general manager and head coach would also mean a lot of player turnover, and the number of players returning from last year is actually comparable to when Erik Soler and Hans Backe took over in 2010. Eleven players returned in 2010 from the previous season and already the Red Bulls are down to just fourteen returning players from 2012.

The European transfer window is open and the MLS Super Draft is set for Thursday, so New York will likely make another notable move or two, possibly through a trade. But where the new decision makers can really make an impact is by improving the squad's depth with their nine open roster spots, a concept that Backe and Soler only started to embrace in 2012. Another thing to keep an eye on is the open Designated Player spot previously occupied by Rafa Márquez. The Red Bulls were able to sign the former Brazilian National Team player Juninho to a non-DP contract leaving open the possibility of signing a high-profile player prior to the season or this summer at the latest.

It's pretty amazing looking at the number of player moves already made under the direction of Andy Roxburgh and Jerome De Bontin, but make no mistake that Paulo Sousa will still have plenty of opportunity to make his mark on the Red Bulls once he is officially announced as the new head coach later this week. Hans Backe also did not formally sign on as head coach until January of 2010 close to the start of the preseason, but then went on to lead the Red Bulls to the playoffs after an abysmal 2009 season.

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