The Red Bulls honored their All-Time First XI on Saturday night before the team's game against the Fire, and although he only played two seasons for the franchise, Dave van den Bergh was honored as one of the selections. In his two years with the team, van den Bergh was easily the team's second best player (only behind Juan Pablo Angel), and scored the most important goal in franchise history. He netted the only goal in the 2008 Western Conference Final, putting the Red Bulls in their only MLS Cup. He became a fan favorite for his consistent play, excellent passing ability and overall class. As quickly as the romance grew, it fell apart as the Dutchman was unceremoniously dumped by the franchise in a trade to FC Dallas before last season. Just recently, van den Bergh was let go by Dallas, and his appearance at Red Bull Arena on Saturday begged many to wonder about his possible return.
In his report on the matter, MLSsoccer.com's Kristian Dyer spoke to van den Bergh, and his words were pretty clear.
"If they would offer me a contract, I'd be interested," van den Bergh told MLSsoccer.com at halftime of the Red Bulls' 1-0 victory over Chicago. "This is a team I have a lot of heart for."
After the match, van den Bergh was in the Red Bulls' workout room, hanging out and joking around with his former teammates. Michael Lewis of Big Apple Soccer spoke with van den Bergh about a possible return, and while he certainly didn't come straight out and say he wanted to return, it's easy to see his affection for his former team and teammates.
"I never made it a secret that I had a great time here," he said. "...On top of that, I didn't want to leave here in the first place. That happened and I'm just happy to be back and seeing some of these clowns again. That's good."
Van den Bergh's return almost seems like it makes too much sense. He never should have been traded. He was a heart and soul type player who, as seen from his comments on Saturday, legitimately loved playing for the Red Bulls. That's a rare thing to find in MLS. Besides that, the guy can still play. In 2008, the year of the Red Bulls' Cup appearance, van den Bergh was perhaps the team's most important player, scoring 7 goals and adding 5 assists. He was the only one who could consistently get Juan Pablo Angel the ball in dangerous areas. A lot of things went wrong for New York in '09, but it all started when they traded van den Bergh.
On the current squad, van den Bergh would fit perfectly. The Red Bulls have what looks like will be a revolving door at left midfield this year, with Sinisa Ubiparipovic and Danleigh Borman playing there in respective weeks. Both are probably better suited for other positions on the field as it is, and neither is nearly as good as van den Bergh. Van den Bergh also would fit head coach Hans Backe's system, as he is technically sound and a great passer.
Van den Bergh is available. He never wanted to leave the Red Bulls. The Red Bulls have a vacancy as left midfield. Again, doesn't it sound too good to be true?
In other news, the Red Bulls defeated Army on Monday in an exhibition, 3-1. Juan Agudelo scored twice, and Conor Chinn added a goal. We also urge you to check out the Once A Metro YouTube Channel, where we have some player reactions from Saturday night. We'll put that video up on the main site soon as well.