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RBNY 2014 Season Preview: A look at the Red Bulls' Forwards

In this edition of our RBNY 2014 season preview pieces, Once A Metro takes a look at the Forwards on the roster for this year.

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Red Bulls have had trouble historically in keeping players from year to year, and since the arrival of Thierry Henry, that trend seems to be worse for forwards, as documented by fellow writer Austin Fido. This year however, things seem to have settled down a little bit. The Red Bulls did lose both Fabian Espindola and Amando Moreno, but managed to keep Henry’s fellow forwards Andre Akpan, Peguy Luyindula, & Bradley Wright-Phillips.

The loss of Espindola might seem harsh since he contributed 11 goals last year (9 in MLS, 2 in US Open Cup), but the majority of those goals came in the beginning of the season before he lost his form, and spot in the lineup. Moreno never cracked the first team due to inexperience, and decided to move on. So, let’s take a look at the forwards for RBNY going into 2014.

Thierry Henry
4th Year with New York
100 Appearances
41 Total Goals

First up, we have the Capitan, Thierry Henry. Henry comes into the last year of his contract after scoring 10 goals for the Red Bulls over all competitions, good for third on the team behind Cahill and Espindola. Overall, he has 41 goals for the Red & White, 17 behind Juan Pablo Angel’s team record 58. Last year was also his healthiest with New York as he appeared in 32 of a possible 40 games. The big key is keeping the Frenchman healthy.

Andre Akpan
2nd Year with New York
7 Appearances
0 Total Goals

Next is Andre Akpan, who the Red Bulls traded for in 2013. While Akpan has only appeared for the first team 7 times last year, he was the leading scorer of the reserves, tallying 10 goals, a personal best. Don’t expect Akpan to be a regular starter this year. While he’s the youngest of the four forwards on the team at age 26, the other three have more professional experience. Akpan’s value will come into play during the US Open Cup and 2014-15 CONCACAF Champions League, where he can be used to rest the regulars.

SB Nation 2014 MLS preview

Peguy Luyindula
2nd Year with New York
26 Appearances
1 Total Goals

Peguy Luyindula, while technically a forward, I think should be classified as an attacking midfielder. He was brought in midway through the 2013 season to partner up top with Henry, but he just couldn’t find his scoring form, constantly changing places with Espindola on the bench. Later in the year, before the playoffs, Luyindula proved his worth when Tim Cahill was out while playing for Australia and after that, when injured. He has the technical ability and the creativity to distribute the ball; which allowed Cahill to move up top and use his heading ability to be a target forward.

Bradley Wright-Phillips
2nd Year with New York
9 Appearances
2 Total Goals

Bradley Wright-Phillips was signed on a free transfer after being released by Chartlon last summer, scoring 2 goals in 9 games. He was hampered by injuries, but showed that he might be someone who can effectively partner with Henry. Wright-Phillips totaled 3 goals in this year’s Disney Pro Soccer Classic ,2 against Orlando City SC and 1 against Montreal Impact, making him the leading goal scorer in the preseason, which is a good sign for the year coming up.

Overall, the Red Bulls have a decent set of forwards, but have one issue at the position, depth. Depth of course is always an issue, but given the three competitions that the Red Bulls will participate in, Henry’s aversion to field turf, and injuries, four players aren’t enough. Don’t be surprised if the Red Bulls go looking for another forward, either through a trade with another MLS club or a summer transfer if they can find room in the salary cap.

Predicted Starters: Thierry Henry, Bradley Wright-Phillips.