With questions being asked of the Red Bulls’ defense following the departure of Jamison Olave, Head Coach Jesse Marsch has finally brought in some reinforcements by signing Ligue 2 veteran Ronald Zubar and former Portland Timbers player Andrew Jean-Baptiste. Damien Perinelle will also rejoin the squad, after the club club did not elect to pick up his option at the end of the season.
Ronald Zubar, a native of Guadaloupe, first started playing professionally in France’s Ligue 2 for Caen, even helping them earn promotion to Ligue 1. Zubar was then signed by Olympique Marseille, where he narrowly missed out on winning Ligue 1 and the French Cup. After his time at Marseille, Zubar had a brief stint at Wolverhampton before returning to France with Ajaccio.
A natural defensive midfielder, Zubar was converted to a center back during his time at Marseille, even playing right back on several occasions. With Armando and Miazga arguably the two best centre backs at the club, Zubar’s experience could earn him a starting spot over the starlet. Zubar, however, can’t join the club until the pending approval of his P-1 visa, so for the time being, Miazga’s spot should be safe (especially since he’s coming home).
Andrew Jean-Baptiste plied his trade with the University of Connecticut before being drafted 8th overall in the 2012 MLS SuperDraft by the Portland Timbers. After scoring in his debut, the youngster was then loaned to Orange County Blues FC for the remainder of the season. The following year, Jean-Baptiste earned himself a starting role before being traded to Chivas USA for the 2014 season. At Chivas, he only made ten appearances, missing two months of action after battling a hernia.
A Brooklyn native, Jean-Baptiste played with the Red Bulls U-23 team in 2010. He can play both left back and center back as needed, making him yet another versatile option for Jesse Marsch. Comfortable with the ball at his feet, Jean-Baptiste likes to play the long ball and looks to get forward often. He can also be a lethal threat off of set pieces. He also provides some much needed depth on the left, especially given the departure of Ambroise Oyongo, with his main competition for the starting spot being Roy Miller. Keep in mind that he’s only 22 years old.
In case you’ve forgotten who Perinelle is, here’s a reminder. The 31-year-old defender is something of a Ligue 2 journeyman, having played for four different clubs in France’s second division. He’s an out-and-out center back who has already made two MLS appearances for the Red Bulls and started in all four of their CONCACAF Champions League matches. Following the 2014 season, he was reportedly released, along with a number of other players. He has yet to prove himself anything but average, so expect to see him coming off of the bench.
The Red Bulls do not seem to be finished with the transfer market, but after an inauspicious start, the club now has some pieces that give a beleaguered back line some much needed depth. Jesse Marsch himself has hinted at the possibility of more moves.
"The only other potential piece is figuring out how to complement Bradley Wright-Phillips up top, or at times if he’s not available, that we’re confident and always can supplement that role as well."