The New York Red Bulls have become infamous for their penny-pinching. Dax McCarty being merely the latest example of the team's affection for saving a few bucks.
While it's easy to criticize the team for the money they stockpile, the team has also had some pretty bad luck when it comes to spending its cash too. By definition, Designated Players are among the most expensive players the Red Bulls have ever purchased, and mistakes with those players can have severe consequences for teams.
And unfortunately, the Red Bulls have had an unsightly share of players who simply weren't (or in some cases aren't) worth the money.
Here are the five worst designated players in Red Bulls history:
5. Frank Rost
By the time he joined the Red Bulls as a DP in 2011, Rost was a 38-year-old goalkeeper with 570 games on his body. He started 11 league games for the team that year and kept five clean sheets, but he couldn't reach an agreement on an extended contract and left at the end of the year.
4. Gonzalo Veron
In August 2015, the team was rumored to have paid $2.2 million to bring the Argentine striker in from San Lorenzo. Nearly three years later as of writing, Veron has delivered four goals and five assists in 55 career appearances. His time at RBNY seems to have been equally divided between injury, out-of-favor stints on the bench, and short-lived runs with the first team. The Red Bulls don't often pay transfer fees for players, let alone multi-million dollar transfer fees, and it seems fair to say neither player nor club expected he'd have fewer than 2,000 minutes played for RBNY after 22 months on the roster.
If Veron somehow turns his tenure with RBNY completely around in the next few weeks, his spot on this list may change. But as things stand, he is arguably the most expensive for-fee transfer flub the club has made.
3. Omer Damari
The Israeli striker was in the right place at the wrong time in his career unfortunately. Once a scoring machine in Israel and Austria, his move to RB Leipzig in 2015 did not work out, so the team tried farming him out to its RB Soccer siblings, first to RB Salzburg and then to New York in summer 2016.
But injuries, poor form and more injuries resulted in him playing in just six games for the team. The main reason Damari sits ahead of the others on this list is the fact that he scored an important goal for RBNY in the 2016-17 CONCACAF Champions League group stage, contributing significantly to the club's first entry into the knockout rounds of the competition. Sadly, RBNY's experience of the CCL quarterfinals was much like Damari's experience of RBNY: underwhelming.
2. Claudio Reyna
"First is the worst" as middle-school kids will say any time they lose a race. Though perhaps no phrase better defines what Claudio Reyna was for the New York Red Bulls as the first-ever DP signed by the team.
By 2007 he was in his mid-30s and a shell of the player who was once one of the USMNT's greatest stars. In two injury-plagued seasons, Reyna made just 30 appearances in all competitions and failed to score a goal. Thankfully, the team came to its sense quickly enough to make Juan Pablo Angel their second DP.
It sure doesn't help Reyna's legacy with the team that subsequently he became the first sporting director of NYC FC.
1. Rafa Marquez
Not only the worst DP in Red Bulls history, but perhaps the worst DP in the history of MLS.
From 2010 to 2012 his time with the team was marred by criticizing teammates, throwing a ball at Landon Donovan's face, seemingly intentional red card fouls, celebrating his early exit from the team and later mocking MLS as an "amateur league." On top of all that, he made just 50 appearances in all competitions over two-and-a-half seasons, and rarely looked like the player he had been before arriving at RBNY or after leaving the team.