The release of the first New York Red Bulls training camp roster of 2017 caused an eyebrow or two to raise as it included only one under-contract, specialist center back. Gideon Baah is not yet fit enough to join the team for preseason, so Aurelien Collin was the only rostered CB in the squad when the squad in Tucson was announced.
Fortunately, it only took the Red Bulls a few hours to address the situation. RBNY has followed its preseason roster announcement with the news center back Damien Perrinelle has been re-signed and is expected to join the team in Arizona.
Perrinelle is coming back for his fourth season with RBNY. He joined the club late in 2014, picking up a handful of appearances as a settled squad gathered momentum for a not-quite-good-enough run to the playoffs' Eastern Conference Final. In 2015, he was a first-team regular, perhaps not getting enough credit for the work he did partnering Matt Miazga and aiding the young CB's rise to a level that ultimately attracted Chelsea's attention. He was an important member of the team that won the Supporters' Shield that year, but an injury in the first leg of the 2015 Eastern Conference semifinals sidelined him until July, 2016. - and then injury struck again in August. He was limited to just 13 appearances in all competitions last season.
Still, when fit, Perrinelle demonstrates a superior understanding of RalfBall's requirements of center backs. He will turn 34 in September of 2017, but is tried and tested in the system RBNY wants to play and has proven himself capable of contributing significantly to a winning team. His presumptive role in this year's squad is to start until one of the younger challengers (looking at you, Gideon Baah) proves capable of taking over.
The Red Bulls did urgently need at least one more experienced, starting-caliber center back on the roster. And they still need at least one, perhaps two, more players who specialize in the position. But Perrinelle's signing satisfies the requirement for at least three starting-caliber specialists. When they are all fit, Collin, Baah, and Perrinelle meet that (minimal) quota of seasoned CBs on the roster.
Perrinelle has the rare distinction of having been cut by RBNY at the end of every season for which he has played for the club.