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Report: New York Red Bulls readying for summer shopping

Heads up, rumor mill.

Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

In his MSG Insider segment during the broadcast of New York Red Bulls' 1-1 tie with Toronto FC, Kristian Dyer revealed RBNY's plans for a little summer shopping:

I've been told from sources that they've identified three center-backs. They're looking to add one from this group. They're all between the ages of 21 to 25. Certainly fits the mold that we've seen from Red Bulls purchases in recent years.

Also that they're looking to bring on board another attacking player. Jesse Marsch isn't happy with the depth that this team has right now. Now whether that's going to be another wide player- keep in mind they brought on board Daniel Royer last summer - or maybe, I'm hearing, there could be the possibility of a central midfield player.

The Red Bulls have looked light at center-back since Gideon Baah was put on the season-ending injury list at the start of the season. The team has consistently said it is looking for another player at that position, but has also made clear that it was not inclined to rush through a transfer.

While the club can sign a free agent any time it wants to - at least until the MLS roster freeze in September - it can be assumed RBNY is waiting either for the MLS summer transfer window to open (on July 10) or for a player currently under contract to become a free agent. Those two possibilities add up to much the same thing, since most player contracts around the world seem to expire in mid-summer, triggering the annual July/August signing frenzy as clubs on an August-May league schedule tool up for the new season.

What that would appear to mean is RBNY is set to remain light at CB for another six games at least. The team has five MLS matches and one US Open Cup game scheduled between now and July 10. And if the Red Bulls enjoy a little Cup run, they might have a couple of additional USOC games to play in that time also.

Of course, a mid-summer CB signing might not be ready to play right away, especially if he has just completed a full season elsewhere - and if fans are to have any confidence the new acquisition is going to help the current season, some prior experience of regular professional minutes will be expected.

Anyway, if Red Bulls sources are ready to let it be known there is a three-man CB shortlist, it seems near-certain there will be a new face in the squad by the end of the summer, at the latest.

The news the team is thinking about bringing in a new attacking signing is less expected, mostly because the roster is stacked with attacking players.

At the time of writing, the Red Bulls have nine players on the MLS roster that can reasonably be described as their attacking options: Bradley Wright-Phillips, Sacha Kljestan, Daniel Royer, Alex Muyl, Mike Grella, Derrick Etienne, Fredrik Gulbrandsen, Brandon Allen, and Gonzalo Veron. In a pinch, the team could also turn to Sal Zizzo (an attacking player before RBNY decided he was a right back), Felipe Martins (considered something of a play-maker before he arrived at the Red Bulls and was installed at d-mid), Sean Davis (who some will tell you would be better utilized in a more advanced midfield position than he typically gets to play for RBNY), and even Arun Basuljevic (the rookie is being groomed for a deeper-lying role at the moment, but he's also only a few months into his career as a pro).

And there are two attacking players out on loan - Anatole Abang and Zeiko Lewis. And there are potential options in the NYRB II squad: Vincent Bezecourt, Florian Valot, Junior Flemmings, and Douglas Martinez being merely those who look closest to challenging for first-team time at the moment.

Only one of those players had played for RBNY before Ali Curtis joined RBNY as sporting director and flipped the club into its current era.

In fairness to RBNY, Dyer's suggestion is that the team might be looking for an alternative to Sacha Kljestan as the nominal central attacking midfielder. Despite all the attacking options in the squad, the team doesn't have many players who bring a similar skill-set to that offered by Kljestan. Davis, Felipe, Basuljevic: that's about it if you're looking for a close to like-for-like Kljestan replacement.

We'll find out what RBNY has in mind when and if the team signs this new attacking player. But the squad is not short on attackers of various shapes, sizes, and skill-sets - and almost all were signed since Marsch took over as head coach.

Every transfer is a risk, not a guarantee. It's also possible there is simply a can't-miss signing opportunity the team has unearthed and which will be obvious to the rest of us as soon as the player in unveiled. If the club feels it is light in a key position or has the potential to make a dramatic upgrade: it doesn't matter how much it has invested in that position already, it should make its move. But with current information, it's hard to get too excited about the prospect of another attacking signing: current management has signed a lot of them, and a few are still untried or not fully tested in MLS.

The team has roster space: three open spots on the senior active roster and one open international slot. There may be no need to trade anyone away to pick up the new player or players. And now the club has let it be known it is in the market for fresh faces, the rumor mill will surely be ready with a few suggestions in the near future.