The New York Red Bulls have landed in Orlando for the first part of their preseason training. Of course, when one sas "New York Red Bulls", it is not entirely certain what that means at the moment.
The club's official roster offers some guidance, but today we discovered that RBNY's second round pick in the 2015 Super Draft has quietly slipped away to trial with a Polish second division team (in fairness, it was never suggested he was on the roster).
Matt Miazga is, of course, in Qatar with Brother Salzburg and Cousin Leipzig, for a reason the Red Bulls are characterizing as absolutely-nothing-but-a-training-stint. That comment, by the way, was issued via unnamed sourceto one of the Red Bull beat's most reliable reporters. It was intended as a rebuttal to comments attributed - on the record - to Red Bull Salzburg/Leipzig sporting director (he fills both roles) Ralf Rangnick, who had been reported as saying Miazga was on trial and would be transferred if thought capable of immediately assisting RB Leipzig (known to be in need of defenders at the moment).
So far, the club's official statements about its preseason activities have been restricted to photographs of Ibrahim Sekagya in Orlando airport with the team (last we heard of Sekagya, his 2015 option had been declined but he was said to be negotiating with the club - which we assume went well for both parties).
At some point, RBNY will get round to issuing a list of who is in camp, and who isn't. Or maybe it won't. The anonymous sources feeding information to Kristian Dyer have long been one of the better channels for news about this team; we now appear to be entering a new era where it is the only channel.
Certainly, it is an effective channel. Today's news from BigAppleSoccer.com is the identity of two trialists in the current Florida camp: Mike Grella and Tim Ward.
Both are former US youth internationals (part of the same cohort as Dax McCarty and Michael Bradley).
Grella chose not to try his luck in MLS, opting instead for a career in Europe. He bounced around a few clubs without quite sticking anywhere - his trial with RBNY came after he had been released by Scunthorpe United. Mike Petke said nice things about him back in 2013, though the team had picked up Ibrahim Sekagya, Bradley Wright-Phillips and David Carney as its mid-season help, so there wasn't really need for one more. Grella moved on and found a place with Danish Superliga's Viborg FF.
He left Viborg at the end of 2013, and signed a half-season contract with NASL's Carolina Railhawks in 2014. Grella contributed to seven of the Railhawks nine league games in the 2014 Spring season of NASL, but did not agree terms for the rest of the year.
And now, the forward/attacking midfielder is on trial with RBNY.
Tim Ward is generally regarded as a left back. He had 14 appearances in all competitions for the MetroStars in his rookie season (2005: he was the 12th overall pick). He is conventionally regarded as left back. He played for five MLS teams between 2005 and 2012, getting the most playing time with Chicago Fire in 2009 under head coach Denis Hamlett.
Hamlett is reportedly RBNY's newest assistant coach, which may explain Ward's presence in training more than his past connection to the club.
Both players address positions of need. If Tim Cahill is on his way (as he seems to be), then RBNY is down to one specialist forward - BWP - and Grella is most often described as a striker. If Ambroise Oyongo's future at the club requires discussion, then the team is short of left-sided players in general, and defenders in particular - and Ward is sufficiently versatile to at least be an option in midfield as well.
Neither player, despite their youth international pedigrees, is an unduly exciting prospect: Ward does not appear to have played professional soccer since 2012, having struggled for several seasons with injuries before entering what had appeared to be a premature retirement; Grella has played for eight clubs in the last six years, and sat out the back half of 2014.
The first set of preseason friendlies are both set to take place behind closed doors, though RBNY is currently operating a closed-mouth communications strategy, so it isn't clear why the team has taken the additional measure of openly stating it won't be telling us much about upcoming events.
It should also be noted that the Red Bulls have a USL Pro squad to fill, and several trialists over the coming weeks may be auditioning for spots in that team as well.