YES Network blog Fully-owned, tax-paying corporation Empire of Soccer has coaxed its sources into revealing that the New York Red Bulls' Karl Ouimette is on the club's outward bound list: the Canadian defender is set to be loaned out to NASL's Jacksonville Armada for the rest of the 2016 season, reports Dave Martinez.
The news is not entirely surprising: Ouimette appeared to have been forced out of the first team center back rotation by the emergence of Chris Duvall as a favored option for head coach Jesse Marsch. RBNY's early-season injury crisis presented Ouimette with an opportunity to establish himself as a starter, and he racked up six starts and seven appearances in the Red Bulls' first eight league games of the year.
Since then, however, he has been largely absent from the first team. Mostly, Ouimette was a near-constant part of RBNY's lamentable start to 2016, but he also played 90 minutes (and scored an own goal) in the helter-skelter 3-2 win over Orlando that hindsight tells us was the moment the Red Bulls' finally found their footing in the league and started to resemble the team that won the 2015 Supporters' Shield.
Five days later, Ouimette watched the 4-0 win over FC Dallas from the bench, as fans were introduced to the idea that Chris Duvall at center back might be more than just a stop-gap solution to a temporary problem. Duvall played well, Ali Curtis stole Aurelien Collin from Orlando City, and Ouimette slipped a little further down the depth chart. When RBNY went to Orlando on May 6, the Canadian stayed behind to pick up a start with NYRB II in Pittsburgh on May 7.
That reserve-team outing against Pittsburgh Riverhounds hijacked whatever opportunity Ouimette might have had to fight his way back into his coach's good graces. A kick to the back from Romeo Parkes grabbed headlines and sidelined the defender.
His role in the altercation to which Parkes so dangerously over-reacted drew Ouimette a three-game suspension in USL, and his evident need to recover from a career-threatening assault seemed to explain why he never even cracked a match-day 18 for the four MLS games RBNY played between the kick and the extended break to allow Copa America Centenario to have its moment.
Ouimette is fit: we know this because he played twice for Canada in June. But he didn't have a role in the US Open Cup match against Rochester Rhinos, and the enforced layoff after his lone 2016 appearance for NYRB II meant he had drifted out of the general conversation about RBNY's defensive options anyway. He has only slipped further down the depth chart since Duvall's development into a center back and Damien Perrinelle's gradual return to fitness.
So it seems like a good idea for Ouimette to take the rest of the season on loan to a club where he might get regular starts and maintain some visibility to his national team coach. RBNY expects to have five potential starting center backs to choose from once Perrinelle is fully fit, and the Canadian isn't one of them.
Assuming his departure is confirmed shortly, Ouimette's absence from RBNY would also free up an international roster slot just in time for the opening of the MLS summer transfer window on July 4.
That sound you hear is the rumor mill churning.