For about an hour after the 2018 MLS Expansion Draft, the New York Red Bulls had one center-back under contract for 2019. FC Cincinnati had taken Hassan Ndam with its fifth and final pick of the draft; RBNY Sporting Director Denis Hamlett had released all the other specialist CBs on the 2018 roster at the end of the season - with the exception of starter Aaron Long.
The timely signing of Amro Tarek from Orlando City - announced within an hour or so of Cincy picking Ndam - prevented the Red Bulls’ center-back predicament from lingering long enough to be considered a crisis.
And then Ives Galarcep dropped bigger news: RBNY’s second starting center-back of 2018, Tim Parker, had agreed a new contract with the club.
Re-signing Parker was the stated off-season priority of Denis Hamlett. The squad’s precariously low number of center-backs and Parker’s critical importance to RBNY’s league-leading defense meant his prolonged absence from the roster would have been an off-season talking point that followed Hamlett throughout his winter transfer dealings.
But it would appear the Red Bulls sporting director is in no mood to indulge gossip about his squad-building. RBNY only has one CB? Here’s Amro Tarek - stop that talk. Key man Tim Parker isn’t yet signed? Sure he is - find something else to worry about.
Expanding on his Tweet for Goal.com, Galarcep advised his sources believed Parker had signed a three-year deal with RBNY: a deal that would make the 25-year-old CB “one of the highest-paid defenders in MLS, and the highest-paid defender on the Red Bulls”.
In a report for ProSoccer USA, Dylan Butler noted he had a source who confirmed the news delivered by Galarcep. And Butler offered more detail:
The deal, which was reached Tuesday afternoon, will see Parker paid in the neighborhood of $700,000 in the first year and up to around $800,000 at the end, a source said. The club paid part of the salary down with allocation money.
Per the last salary report from the MLS Players Association, that doesn’t just make Parker the highest paid defender in the RBNY squad, it means he may be earning more in 2019 than the rest of the club’s preferred starting back line put together. At the end of the season, the Red Bulls picked up options on contracts that paid $73,125 and $88,754 to Aaron Long and Michael Murillo respectively in 2018; Kemar Lawrence got a new multi-year contract at the end of September, after the release of the MLSPA salary report that suggested he was guaranteed $255,600 in the last year of his old deal.
So Parker getting paid may necessitate a few other players on the back-line getting paid if they too are to stick around beyond 2019. But that is a matter for their agents to consider.
Once Parker’s signing is confirmed by RBNY, Hamlett will have successfully completed what seems to have been the first priority of his 2019 roster-building: he has 10 of the 11 preferred 2018 RBNY starters under contract for the new season. Only Tyler Adams - transferred to RB Leipzig - will be missing from the lineup that finished 2018 as Red Bulls’ head coach Chris Armas favored starting XI. That is impressive continuity for any team in MLS - where salary budget constraints often make it difficult to keep good squads intact - and a promising platform on which RBNY can build a team to chase all the trophies in 2019.