Where do the Seattle Sounders get off?
In signing Clint Dempsey they check off almost all the boxes the Red Bulls used to do with stunning regularly. Outlandish rumors? Check. Surprise signing? Check. Splashing the cash? Check. And they did it all with a big, marquee signing. It's almost like they're doing their best Red Bulls impression, only better than the Red Bulls ever could.
And what are we Red Bulls fans left with? Trialist Mike Grella, a Long Island native and English soccer journeyman. Yeah, it's certainly not your typical summer in Red Bulls land...
And as the summer transfer window lurches to a close in four days time, it's probably for the best.
As it stands right now, the Red Bulls are even on points with Real Salt Lake for the top spot in the Supporters' Shield race, with RSL holding the tiebreaker. To get there, the Red Bulls beat RSL in thrilling fashion last week and Sporting Kansas City 3-2 last night, both ended up being six-pointers in the race for the shield, catapulting the Red Bulls from high-middle to the top.
Featuring in last night's game? Ibrahim Sekagya. The Ugandan center defender turned in a quiet-yet-effective game in the midfield, which is exactly what you want from a defensive-minded player. Like Grella, Sekagya isn't a big name. Few, aside from Salzburg faithful and Ugandian football fanatics, could name him, but in his first MLS game, he puts in a solid shift. The Red Bulls other off-season signing, Bradley Wright-Phillips was much the same way. As it stands, Wright-Phillips currently awaits his visa.
Neither Sekagya nor Wright-Phillips was flashy, but the two do fit into what's being billed as the Red Bulls' new strategy for roster building. They want to find the right players, especially if it's going to cost them, rather than any players, the latter seemingly employed by former GM Erik Soler.
Soler's strategy lead to constant roster churn during the warmer months. Last year alone, the Red Bulls brought on Sebastien Le Toux, Tim Cahill, Lloyd Sam, Digao, Luis Robles and Bill Gaudette. Some were good (Cahill), some were necessary (Robles, Gaudette) and some were just plain awful (Le Toux, Digao), but regardless, that's six new players on a team enamored with "winning now."
Instead, with Roxburgh at the helm, the Red Bulls seem more content with building from their academy, the country's best, using their resources to find players that fit and only throwing money around when the right opportunity arises.
No, Clint Dempsey isn't in a Red Bulls jersey and yes, that makes us -- and fans of the league's other 18 teams -- jealous. But Red Bulls fans, at least, should be happy the big shots running the team don't feel they need to throw around money a big name. It's a smart move, and even more importantly, it seems to be working.