Whatever your take on the Clint Dempsey saga -- great move or terrible move, rule bending quasi-conspiracy or great investment -- for Red Bulls fans, the question of whether or not Dempsey could have joined the Red Bulls has lingered since the news broke last week.
After all, the team's got deep pockets, and who wouldn't want to live in New York? One would suspect the Red Bulls to be in the conversation, but in Grant Wahl's (heavily Seattle sourced) Sports Illustrated retrospective, Dempsey had narrowed his choices down to the LA Galaxy, Toronto FC, and, of course, the Seattle Sounders. An ESPNFC report suggested Dempsey considered the Houston Dynamo as well, which would be as close a homecoming as he could get. But no mention of the Red Bulls, aside from a jab from Sounders majority owner Joe Roth, who placed some importance on making sure Dempsey find himself in Los Angeles or New York.
But, apparently, Dempsey was offered to the Red Bulls. The former Fulham and Tottenham man was open to it, too. But for whatever reason -- and the Big Apple Soccer story doesn't offer any explanations -- it didn't materialize.
However, we can probably hazard a guess: The Red Bulls have sunk a good bit of money into the team in the last few years --Thierry Henry, Tim Cahill, Red Bull Arena, the ill-fated tenure of Rafael Marquez, the new training facility -- that the Austrian mothership, as well-heeled as they are, wasn't willing to fork over the $6 million a year Seattle is paying Dempsey. Note that Henry and Cahill are both being paid a little less than half of Dempsey's yearly salary with Seattle.
That's a big investment for anyone to undertake, even a multi-billion dollar company. It would've done wonders for the team -- definitely piqued the interest of the casual, FIFA playing fan the team needs to convert into a diehard -- but so has Henry, the Arena and (hopefully) the new training facility. Of course, it can also be taken the other way: The multi-billion dollar soda company is holding out on building a relevant, winning soccer team in the world's best-known city, especially with an upcoming competitor breathing down the team's neck.
However you take the news, the Red Bulls took a long, hard look and didn't think it would work for one reason or another.