In an official statement approximately as long as his career with the team, the New York Red Bulls bid Muhamed Keita goodbye and good luck.
RBNY offered five sentences on the subject of Keita’s exit, including a statement from sporting director Denis Hamlett:
On behalf of the organization, I’d like to thank Muhamed for his time with the club. We wish him all the best as he moves forward with his career.
Not that there is a lot to say about Keita’s time with RBNY: it started in July, 2017, totaled seven appearances in all competitions, and is over before the 2018 season kicks off.
Keita’s departure was tipped by RBNY scoop-whisperer Kristian Dyer.
Per source, #RBNY is set to release Muhamed Keita. Talented and speedy midfielder, the former Norwegian U-23 was caught in a numbers crunch.— Kristian Dyer (@KristianRDyer) February 3, 2018
The “numbers crunch” described by Dyer’s source might be salary-cap related (Keita was listed as earning around $250,000 in the last MLS Players Association salary release), but more likely refers to the team’s apparent surplus of international players. Keita was one of 12 international players listed on RBNY’s current roster. One of those players - Anatole Abang - exists mostly as a hypothetical tradeable asset, and is on loan until (we assume) his contract expires or he is transferred permanently.
Subtract Abang and Keita from the list, and there are still 10 international players on the roster. It is believed RBNY has nine international roster slots - and it is also a near-certainty that another international player, Alejandro “Kaku” Romero Gamarra, is about to join the team. As such, the Red Bulls would appear to be in urgent need of some roster rationalization, and releasing Keita is likely just the start of that process.
The Red Bulls’ next roster moves will reveal the method to the apparent madness of releasing a player only recently acquired and given very little time to prove himself. For now, Muhamed Keita joins the not-insignificant list of RBNY signings gone without really being around long enough to be forgotten.
Keita, however, did squeeze in a claim to a more lasting place in Red Bulls’ fans memories than seven appearances might suggest: he made a significant contribution to RBNY spoiling DC United’s farewell party at RFK Stadium.
That assist on Michael Murillo’s equalizer started the Red Bulls on the road to a win on their last-ever visit to a stadium they’ve loved to hate since their inception (as MetroStars) in 1996. For this alone, Keita deserves to be warmly remembered.
We’ll never know if he’d have provided bigger and better memories had he stuck around - so thanks for that memory, Muhamed. Best of luck at your next club.