The New York Red Bulls' search for a new goalkeeper to replace the mistake-prone tandem of Greg Sutton and Bouna Coundoul has concluded with the signing of Hamburger SV keeper Frank Rost, according to a report published today in German tabloid Bild. Rost, 38, has a wealth of experience in the German Bundesliga, having made 426 top-flight appearances since 1992 with three clubs: Werder Bremen, Schalke 04 and most recently Hamburger SV. At HSV, he has made at least 30 appearances over each of the last four seasons and has been a mainstay between the sticks.
Rost has a reputation as a no-nonsense player who commands his area well and is not afraid to get in the face of defenders. How well his style will translate from German to English is an open question, but it would be hard to argue that he is not a massive upgrade from the Red Bulls' current goalkeeping options. Amazingly, an enterprising YouTuber has already put together a Goodbye Frank Rost - Welcome to the New York Red Bulls highlight video.
The signing is a crucial one for the Red Bulls, who have been leaking goals at an alarming rate. If New York wants to stay at the top of the Eastern Conference and have any chance of making a postseason run at MLS Cup, they must do a better job of minimizing goalkeeping and defensive errors.
Rost was out of contract, so there will be no transfer fee involved in the transaction, but the Red Bulls may have to clear some additional cap space to accommodate a player of his quality and salary demands. The trade of Dwayne De Rosario for Dax McCarty should have given them some room to maneuver, but it's likely now that one of Sutton or Coundoul will be on the chopping block. The smart money would be on Coundoul, who is on a higher salary, has been in Hans Backe's doghouse since preseason and let in four goals last night in US Open Cup play. Rost's arrival could signal the end of Bouna Time in New York.
There's also the matter of finding an international slot for Rost. Expect the Red Bulls to make some roster moves prior to Saturday night's league game in Los Angeles against Chivas USA, when the German veteran could make his debut, according to a subsequent Bild report. The story also has confirmation of the deal from HSV sources and a direct quote from Red Bulls sporting director Erik Solér.
[Ed. The deal has now been confirmed by the Red Bulls. In fact, Rost becomes the club's third designated player. That Erik Solér is willing to extend a designated player deal to a 38 year-old goalkeeper should tell you something about the depth of his concern with the position. It remains to be seen what other roster moves might follow.]