Existential Crises and Brazilian Defenders

Christian Petersen

Digao is hurt and back in Brazil, which begs the question: Was he ever really here to begin with?

News broke today -- in the way any news that breaks about a player who never plays can -- that Digao was back in his home country of Brazil with a heel issue.

Never mind that this forces one of Markus Holgersson, Heath Pearce or Jamison Olave to the bench for insurance at center back this weekend against Tornoto FC. This begs the question if the 27-year-old defender was ever really here in the first place.

We all know he was here in the real, physical sense. He signed with the team in September from AC Milan, where he was more of a mercenary for various lower division and smaller league teams across Europe. He only made one appearance for Milan in six years contracted with the team and never really caught on in any of his other stops.

When he came to the team he impressed then-Head Coach Hans Backe "with his physical prowess and ability to play technically out of the backline." He was in good shape, according to Backe, who said that was tantamount when bringing in a player during a transfer window.

But in the eight months since he joined the team (fine, half of those months were off-season), he's made exactly one appearance for the team, playing precisely one minute in the dying minutes of the Red Bulls' heartbreaking 1-0 loss to D.C. United that knocked them out of the playoffs. And it's not like he was in there for that one minute for his technical prowess or game-changing play on the backline. It was because he's freaking huge. At 6'4" he was there to knock in a goal off a set piece.

Aside from that, I think I saw him warming up once this season...

This isn't, necessarily, about his physical presence on the team. That actually happened and this isn't Infowars. It's about whether or not the Backe/Erik Soler regime was signing a lump of DNA that had the good fortune of springing from the same loins as Kaka in order to lure the more famous brother with the much worse nickname to the squad. Which, really, shifts Digao from "valuable member of the team with size and the ability to play technically out of the backline" to "human bargaining chip," making his presence on the team something of a babysitting gig. And this whole story an exercise in contemplating existence and metaphysics and all that.

Because, if you'll remember the Red Bulls actually made a play for Kaka, according to multiple sources. Wouldn't the 31-year-old Kaka like to end his career with his brother, who he played with for two seasons at Milan? The two could live in New York, play the sport where they made their living for their entire adult lives and enjoy one of the world's greatest cities. It certainly gave them a leg-up over the LA Galaxy.

Instead, Kaka didn't come. And instead of being a bargaining chip, it seems his purpose here is to spout soundbites we can all eat up on the possibility of Kaka in (different) white shirt.

If Digao is back in Brazil, the injury must be fairly serious. Especially if the Red Bulls are letting doctors down there handle it in lieu of their revamped medical staff. It's enough to fan the conspiracy signing flames for me, anyway.

This ignores, of course, the possibility that Andy Roxburgh and Co. have decided this experiment has run it's course and are ready to part ways with the centerback.

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