Thanks are due to SBI's Franco Panizo for catching up with Terrence Boyd to talk about the occasion of his first Bundesliga goal - scored for his new club Darmstadt against one of his old ones, Borussia Dortmund.
Panizo didn't have to, but he brought up the subject of Boyd's reported flirtation with a move from RB Leipzig (where he had been told it was time to move on) to the New York Red Bulls. Boyd had already confirmed RBNY was an option for him back in December: he told Bild the New York branch of the Red Bull Global Soccer family was "a delightful alternative".
But the move to RBNY quickly faded away as Boyd's winter transfer options seemed to narrow to Huddersfield Town and a rotating cast of German clubs. Boyd picked Darmstadt and that was that.
What Panizo uncovered, however, was that the possibility of a move to New York was apparently still on the table in early January. The player mentioned he discussed it with RBNY head coach Jesse Marsch at RB Leipzig's winter training camp in Portugal:
We’ve been to Jersey and saw the training facilities. Jesse Marsch was in training camp with Red Bull Leipzig when we went to Portugal and we sat down with him and I told him, ‘One day, I’d love to come to New York because it’s so familiar, it’s a nice a club.
Boyd went on to explain multiple reasons for not accepting whatever offer was made: he "wanted to prove myself further", his girlfriend is reluctant to move countries at this moment, and MLS rules preventing players from picking where they play were a concern.
The last point is slightly confusing if he was talking to Marsch about a move to RBNY, but Boyd's options were understood to be a January transfer or waiting for his Leipzig contract to expire in the summer of 2017. He told the German press he didn't want a loan move - which might have allowed him to simply slot in with RBNY as Omer Damari did last season - so perhaps he and Marsch were discussing the implications of his joining MLS as a free agent.
The substance of Boyd's conversation with Marsch is not quite as interesting as its timing. We know he didn't move to RBNY. We know he's signed with Darmstadt. It seems unlikely he'll be landing in MLS anytime soon, and the chance of seeing him suit up for the Red Bulls dropped significantly once he left the RB Global Soccer system (though he did say he'd love to play for RBNY one day).
Marsch's trip to Portugal to be with Leipzig is one of the pieces of the puzzle surrounding the departure of Ali Curtis from RBNY. The head coach took off for Europe for what was revealed to be a seemingly routine visit to consult with fellow RB Soccer coaches and perhaps gather ideas and concepts for RBNY's preseason. Except that RBNY wouldn't say where Marsch had gone - and since he was gone during the MLS Combine his absence was missed.
With the club apparently incapable of simply saying "he's at Leipzig's training camp in Portugal", the rumor mill intervened and Red Bulls fans were treated to several days of speculation, including the persistent idea that Marsch was in Europe to finalize a deal that would see him take over coaching duties at RB Salzburg. In the midst of that speculation, we got our first suggestion that Ali Curtis might get swept away in whatever was happening at RBNY.
Then Marsch returned to offer an explanation for his absence that could have been provided at any time by anyone at the club, and Ali Curtis abruptly left the team's MLS Draft preparations. The sporting director wasn't heard from again until his exit from RBNY was formally announced on February 16.
But now we at least know a little more about what Marsch was doing in Portugal with Leipzig: he wasn't just getting training tips from Ralf Rangnick, he was also chatting about a potential transfer with Terrence Boyd. Neither of those things speaks to why Curtis felt he had to leave RBNY, but we know that the sporting director seemed to stop being the sporting director almost as soon as it was learned Marsch was heading back to LA to join the team for the Draft.
Another point of information: shortly after Marsch returned to RBNY, the club pulled the trigger on its other great controversy of the off-season - the Dax McCarty trade to Chicago Fire. That trade had the effect of freeing up McCarty's salary and winning $200,000 in GAM for each of the next two years. One still surprising aspect of the move was its unseemly haste (it left McCarty "blindsided"), for which there is no clear justification at the moment because RBNY hasn't made any obvious use of the money it received.
Per Boyd's comments to SBI, it seems Marsch (and therefore the rest of RBNY) knew he wasn't coming back from Portugal with Terrence Boyd. Maybe Marsch knew Boyd wasn't coming to New York even before he went to Portugal. Regardless, the notion McCarty was traded to free up resources to loan in the Leipzig man doesn't quite add up. But those resources were freed up for some purpose: it wasn't essential to trade McCarty in a flash just to get young midfielder Sean Davis more minutes on the field.
But RBNY was talking to a true target forward in the off-season, so maybe that is a type of player still on RBNY's shopping list - the roster could use another scoring option, and a Boyd-type player would complement the range of skills and experience already in the squad. No Boyd-type player has been acquired yet, and the Dax cash doesn't seem to have been spent. Perhaps those two points of information are connected. Perhaps the quick succession of events once Marsch returned from Europe - Ali's exit, the McCarty trade - suggest some sort of conclusion was reached on both sides of the Atlantic during the head coach's should-never-have-been-a-secret trip to visit RB Leipzig.
So thanks are due to Franco Panizo. He hasn't cracked the puzzle of RBNY's bizarre off-season, but he has provided another piece toward its solution.