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Red Bulls On The Run: The Forwards Who Have Tried To Partner Thierry Henry At RBNY

Amando Moreno's decision to head to Tijuana was regrettable, but not without precedent. Since Thierry Henry arrived in Harrison, RBNY has cycled through 15 forwards - of varying reputations - in the effort to find just one who might stick as the captain's strike partner. Here's who they are, and what they're doing now.

Both these men won league titles in 2013
Both these men won league titles in 2013
Mike Stobe

Amando Moreno's departure for Club Tijuana makes the young striker part of a RBNY tradition: forwards who left  the club during the Henry era. So far, there have been 15 such players (depending on how you define "forward" and how you define "at the club").

I offer no judgment on the matter. Players come and go all the time. And when a team has a position locked down, such as RBNY does with Henry in the squad, there is often a regular rotation of the supporting cast.

Still, it's preseason - a good time for taking stock. So here's a look at the guys who have tried to fill the space next to Titi in the lineup...

John Wolyniec - RETIRED 7.30.10

Scarcely two weeks after Henry's arrival at Red Bull Arena, Wolyniec was released from his contract; he retired shortly thereafter. Someone had to leave the roster to make room for Titi, and Woly's playing career had reached its twilight. His last act as a player was to be the first - but certainly not the last - to fall victim to RBNY's restless efforts to find a suitable strike partner for Thierry Henry.

THE CLUB IS HEADED IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION, DOING SOME BIG THINGS   -John Wolyniec: all class, even when he's just been told he's out of a job.

What's He Doing Now?

Fittingly for a club legend (2nd all-time-all-competitions appearances; 6th goals scored), Woly was booted from the pitch to the training ground. After serving an apprenticeship coaching youth teams for a few seasons, he was promoted to Reserve Team Head Coach in 2013.

Macoumba Kandji - TRADED 09.14.10

As the 2010 season wound down, RBNY was riding high in the standings and clearly destined for the playoffs. At the time Kandji - a talented but goal-shy forward - was traded, the team had won three out of four matches, Henry had scored twice in three games, and Juan Pablo Angel was still on the roster. Who the hell needed Macoumba Kandji?

Not RBNY. Kandji was bounced to Colorado in exchange for Mehdi Ballouchy, an attacking midfielder with, it was hoped, the chops to fill #10 slot in New York's lineup. Ballouchy scored on his debut for RBNY, one of four goals he managed in 59 appearances with the club.


What's He Doing Now?

The motivating factor behind trading Kandji was to pick up the extra piece needed to run through the playoffs and snatch MLS Cup. The plan worked a treat - for Colorado. Kandji created the extra-time goal which won the 2010 MLS Cup for Colorado Rapids. He wrecked his knee in the process, but popped up as a substitute in Houston Dynamo's (losing) 2012 MLS Cup final appearance.

Two championship games in three years was pretty much what RBNY was hoping for with the Kandji trade - so one could say it all worked out as planned. After the 2012 MLS season, Kandji took his magic touch (he played in three out of five MLS Cup finals from 2008 to 2012) to Greece, where he helped Kalloni win promotion to the Greek top flight. Currently, he plays for Levadiakos, also in the Greek Superleague.

Juan Pablo Angel - RE-ENTRY DRAFT 12.15.10

JPA was the top scorer for RBNY in each of his four seasons at the club. He is the team's all-time leading scorer. He is, for this team, a legend. Henry's arrival should have given the Colombian the quality, reliable, strike partner he needed if he was to crown his time in New York with a trophy.

Instead, after half a season of failing to get Angel and Henry to gel effectively, Backe and Soler cut their losses. Angel was allowed to slip into the re-entry draft and was picked up by LA Galaxy. He suffered the further indignity of being moved along to Chivas USA in the middle of the 2011 season to make room for another shiny new addition to MLS: Robbie Keane.

RBNY fans should be grateful. But for Keane's arrival at the Galaxy, we might have had to sit through a second consecutive season of watching a former Red Bull win MLS Cup, which LA won in 2011, just a year after Mac Kandji's Rapids.


What's He Doing Now?

Winning. In 2013, perhaps the greatest ever Red Bull returned home to his first club, Atletico Nacional, under the management of one of RBNY's less great coaches - Juan Carlos Osorio. In their first full year together since the catastrophic 2009 season in MLS, Angel and Osorio (and, in fairness, a bunch of other guys) won both the Apertura and Finalizacion stages of the Colombian top flight, and the Copa Colombia.

Conor Chinn - WAIVED 03.01.11

Three goals in four US Open Cup matches in 2010 raised the hope that Chinn would become a legit goal scorer for New York. But he was cut during the 2011 preseason. He remains joint third on the club's all-time US Open Cup scoring chart, though that probably says more about the team's generally dreadful record in the competition than it does about Chinn.


What's He Doing Now?

Working. The young forward was briefly on Real Salt Lake's books in 2011, but finished out that year with NASL's Atlanta Silverbacks. The following season, he played for Rochester Rhinos in USL Pro, but hasn't since featured on a professional club's roster.

Salou Ibrahim - WAIVED 03.21.11

The big man - 6' 5" - arrived from Vejle Boldklub as one of the initial flurry of imports from parts Scandinavian thrust on the club by the Backe-Soler regime. No harm in that: soccer people, like anyone else, tend to stick with what they know; and the Vikings knew the Northern European leagues pretty well.

Ibrahim lasted about a season, scored three goals in 20 appearances, and left.


What's He Doing Now?

Ibrahim had his greatest success in the Belgian leagues, so it was unsurprising to hear he'd landed back there after his dalliance with MLS. He spent 2012 mainly on the bench for OH Leuven, at the time a newly promoted side to Belgium's top-flight.

He dropped all the way down to the third division for the 2012-13 season, scoring eight goals in 15 appearances for La Louviere Centre. This year, he's bounced up a level to second division Hoogstraten, for whom he has not done much of anything to date.

Luke Rodgers - RELEASED 03.30.12

Over the course of 2011, RBNY cleared out two legends (Woly and JPA), a lucky charm (Kandji), a kid (Chinn) and a giant (Ibrahim) to make room for...Luke Who?

Rodgers arrived in Harrison with a solid, if unexceptional, reputation as a consistent goal scorer in England's lower leagues. His signing was hardly cause for celebration within a fan base still lamenting the loss of Juan Pablo Angel. But he won the supporters over during a single season of ceaseless, intelligent running and 10 goals in 25 appearances.

He was the strike partner Henry had been hoping for: smart enough to know when to play decoy, or provider, or slip into position to finish. Unfortunately, we never got to see how the Henry-Rodgers partnership might develop. RBNY failed to notice the MLS playoffs would cause Rodgers to overstay his visa, and the resulting immigration complications were never resolved. He was denied re-entry to the US for the 2012 season, and ultimately had to be released from his contract.


What's He Doing Now?

Looking for work. An accomplished footballing nomad, Rodgers has played for four clubs in less than two years. Erik Soler hooked him up with a move to Lillestrom in Norway, then he moved to Portsmouth (where he stayed long enough to run into Lloyd Sam and persuade him to consider a move to RBNY - cheers, Luke!). After that, he returned to the club where it all started for him, Shrewsbury Town. When that didn't work out, he found a spot on Hammarby's roster, in the Swedish second division, in July 2013.

But none of those gigs brought the consistent playing time, and goals, Rodgers found with RBNY. He is currently out of contract.

Juan Agudelo - TRADED 05.17.12

Agudelo is one of those talents for whom the soccer establishment appears urgently to be seeking to manipulate reality to match perception. Don't get me wrong: he's very, very good. One day, he may even be great. But his achievements don't yet match his potential.

Much has been invested in Agudelo's potential, and many of the moves in his career to date look suspiciously like attempts to protect the investment rather than the player. A regular in the USMNT youth ranks, Agudelo was signed out of the Red Bull academy at a time when he was in serious danger of being snapped up by Colombian powerhouse Millonarios. He spent most of his rookie season with the reserves, but was called up for his senior national team cap in November of 2010 - scoring his first goal for USMNT before he'd managed to bag one for RBNY.

He got his first club goal as a pro in the opening game of the 2011 season, nabbing the winner against Seattle at Red Bull Arena. But he dropped down the depth chart as it became clear Luke Rodgers was a better foil for Henry than the young Agudelo. Eleven games into the 2012 season, when it was clear Agudelo was looking at another season on the bench, because Kenny Cooper was going to be Henry's main strike partner, he was shipped out to Chivas USA.

The deal was almost embarrassingly lop-sided in RBNY's favor: occasional USMNT defender, Heath Pearce, AND allocation money, AND a chunk of Pearce's salary still paid by Chivas, AND a possible future cut of any fee paid for Agudelo to leave MLS. In exchange, Chivas got a young forward with six goals and four assists in 40 appearances for RBNY. The move looked a lot like MLS over-reacting to the need to reboot the stalling career of a young talent, and prized asset.


What's He Doing Now?

As had done for RBNY, Agudelo showed glimpses of his talent while at Chivas, and certainly benefited from a more secure place in the starting lineup. But the Goats lost the plot in 2013, responding to a poor 2012 season with a half-baked, poorly executed plan to create a sort of proxy LigaMX squad. As the club struggled to make sense of strategy that never really amounted to much more than signing a large number of Mexican players who weren't cutting it elsewhere, it was time for Agudelo to move again.

He landed in New England, not the ideal window for his talent, given the Revs are saddled with the worst playing surface in MLS, but better than Chivas. If the plan was to get Agudelo into position to attract a transfer fee before his MLS contract expired, it failed. He skipped out of the league that never quite managed to make him a star to join Stoke City on a free transfer in January 2014.

Currently, he's playing for FC Utrecht in the Dutch top flight, on loan, biding his time and hoping to qualify for a work permit to play for Stoke in the EPL.

Jose Angulo - RELEASED 11.19.12

Angulo spent an entire season on the RBNY roster, but never played a competitive game for the club.


What's He Doing Now?

Making up for lost time. For 2013, Angulo landed at Pittsburgh Riverhounds in USL PRO, nominally the third tier of professional soccer in the US. He scored 10 goals in his first 13 appearances, finishing the year with 15 in 24 games. He won the league's Golden Boot and MVP. Another season like that and he may finally get a game or two in MLS.

Jhonny Arteaga - RELEASED 11.19.12

Arteaga logged a couple of appearances in US Open Cup, and a handful of garbage-time minutes for RBNY in MLS, but never appeared destined to win Hans Backe's favor. At the end of the 2012 season, he was cut as part of the mid-November player purge which signaled the end of the Viking era at RBA.


What's He Doing Now?

Playing with an old friend. Arteaga played for Pittsburgh Riverhounds in 2013, alongside fellow RBNY roster makeweight, Jose Angulo. He is expected to do the same for the 2014 season.

Corey Hertzog - RELEASED 11.19.12

Between 2010 and 2011, RBNY signed nine draft picks. Corey Hertzog was the only one to still be on the roster for the 2012 season. If that was a sort of testament to his talents, his 11 goals in 20 appearances for USL PRO's Wilmington Hammerheads while on loan for most of 2012, appeared to confirm he had something.

Not enough to get him much time on the field for RBNY, but he did get picked up by Vancouver Whitecaps shortly after New York released him at the end of 2012.


What's He Doing Now?

Much like his time at RBNY, Hertzog couldn't nail down a regular place for the 'Caps. For 2014, he has joined Orlando City for the club's last season in USL PRO before it joins MLS as an expansion club for 2015. If he sticks around for that, it will be his third MLS team and, perhaps, the third time will prove to be the charm for him.

Sebastien LeToux - TRADED 12.06.12

He arrived mid-way through the 2012 season with a reputation as a once-consistent goal scorer (for Philadelphia Union and Seattle Sounders) who suffered a collapse in form after moving to Vancouver. In a relatively savvy piece of business, Erik Soler traded Dane Richards - who was openly running down his contract with MLS in preparation for a move to Europe - for Le Toux, similarly close to being out of contract but at least less focused on quitting the league.

The move didn't work out particularly well: Le Toux spent most of his time on the wing, contributing one goal and one assist in 15 appearances. And though he did re-up his contract, allowing RBNY to trade him back to Philly for something in return, it wasn't for much: Josue Martinez lasted barely three months on the roster, and whatever allocation money was thrown into the deal was not enough to allow Kenny Cooper to stay with the squad.


What's He Doing Now?

Playing for the Union, the club that never should have let him go in the first place.

Kenny Cooper - TRADED 02.04.13

Cooper's case is perhaps the most frustrating of all the one-season-and-done strike partners Henry has cycled through since arriving at Red Bull Arena. Angel and Henry never quite clicked on the pitch - fine. Luke Rodgers couldn't get back into the country - OK. But Kenny was a revelation alongside Henry, feasting on the opportunities provided to notch 19 goals in 37 appearances; raising his game back to the level of his 2006-2009 stint with FC Dallas, when he won USMNT call ups and a move (back) to Europe.

Kenny was prolific and American, therefore out of reach of whatever grudge the INS holds against RBNY's forward line. Unfortunately, he was also due a substantial increase in pay - well earned on the back of his 2012 season. Cooper's shoot-first-look-for-the-pass-later mentality was effective, despite rumors it irked Henry.

RBNY clung on to Cooper deep into the 2013 preseason, before finally acknowledging it wasn't going to work out and allowing him to slip back to Dallas for allocation money.


What's He Doing Now?

In 2014, Cooper will be a Seattle Sounder - his fourth MLS club in his fourth season since returning from Europe.

Josue Martinez - WAIVED 03.29.13

A young forward who had scored his first goal for his country - Costa Rica - by the age of 20, Martinez's stay with RBNY was the culmination of a short and unhappy time in MLS. He moved to the Union in 2012 as a young man with international caps and CONCACAF Champions League appearances. He lasted a season in Philly, got pitched out to RBNY as part of deal for Sebastien Le Toux, played one competitive match for Mike Petke, and was cut from the squad.


What's He Doing Now?

He has returned to Saprissa, the Costa Rican club where he launched his career, and where he will hope to swiftly recover the form and reputation which won MLS's attention in the first place.

Fabian Espindola - RE-ENTRY DRAFT 12.09.13

Is he the last, or merely the latest, of the forwards to not quite make the necessary grade to play alongside Henry? Espindola delivered pretty much exactly what he'd provided for Real Salt Lake over the previous two seasons: nine goals, skill on the ball and a lot of running off it. But too often he seemed to run himself down blind alleys, pulling wide right while Henry went wide left (or vice versa), leaving RBNY with no one in front of goal.

Petke started to experiment with alternatives: Tim Cahill or Bradley Wright-Phillips, more direct attackers, up front. With his salary allegedly due to treble this year, and his starting place far from secure, Espindola had to go.


What's He Doing Now?

DC United picked up his rights in the second round of this year's Re-Entry Draft. He is one of them now.

Amando Moreno - POACHED 02.19.14

Moreno's departure for Tijuana continues RBNY's tradition of hemorrhaging forwards in the Henry era. He wasn't going to be a starter this year, probably wasn't going to be on the bench much - and that is why he left to join a club with a better reserve team set up. Moreno probably won't see many first team minutes for Xolos either, but at least LigaMX knows how to get developing players meaningful minutes.

Good luck, Amando. Hope we see you again sometime.

Meanwhile, at RBA, it looks increasingly likely that Petke will start the season using Cahill as Henry's main strike partner, supported by Peguy Luyindula in a play-making role.  It was an approach which worked relatively well on the occasions it was deployed last season. Here's hoping it works this time around, not only because it means RBNY will be successful, but also because this is the year when a poor season almost certainly means Thierry Henry is the forward who doesn't come back for 2015.