Ah, the rumor mill, grinding innuendos and sources into discourse for consumption by the general public. This week, the connected name is familiar to New York Red Bulls fans, a former player from the academy who tried his luck in Europe. The perpetual stew behind the MLS Transfers Twitter account published that the club is interested in left back Chris Gloster from PSV Eindhoven. He had signed a three-year deal with the 24-time Dutch champions in August of 2019.
While accepting the validity of rumors can never truly be confirmed and largely occupy a sphere of their own, this one is plausible. Gloster fits a similar classification as starting fullback Kyle Duncan, recently signed goalkeeper Luca Lewis, and a few other whispers of Americans abroad being contacted by the Red Bulls. Players try their hand in Europe, finding breaking through difficult, before returning to the domestic league in the hopes of securing playing time and a quick bounce back.
These talents, often current or former youth internationals, possess both a high level of ability and unrealized potential, but they also have the seasoning and perspective gained from some time spent abroad. Consider them a speculative signing that doesn’t take up a valuable international spot and won’t face cultural or adjustment struggles. In the face of the challenges presented by MLS roster rules and regulations, the returning young American is a reasonable, low stakes gamble with the possibility of yielding a sky-high return on the field and in the transfer market. In this case, there would also be the added benefit of signing a player who understands the system and playing style.
The Red Bulls could always use an upgrade at fullback. The position is perhaps the most important in the club’s high pressing system, demanding top-tier fitness, mistake-free play, and constant involvement on both sides of the ball. While Jason Pendant was serviceable at left back, he failed to impress and stake his claim as the undisputed starter. First-round SuperDraft selection Patrick Seagrist was released at the end of the season, leaving open a spot that necessitates reliable depth and a future starter on a development track.
Gloster joined the Red Bulls academy in 2013 and made one appearance for the USL reserve side in 2016. Instead of signing an MLS contract, “those around him felt it was time to take the next step.” After trials with several European clubs, the choice was made to join Hannover 96. While in Germany, the 20-year-old never managed to escape the reserves and eventually moved to PSV following an impressive performance at the 2019 U-20 World Cup.
Upon signing with the Dutch giants, Gloster took somewhat of a swipe at MLS in stating that in Europe “if you are good enough, it does not matter how old you are.” But Gloster has yet to make an appearance in the Eredivisie despite frequent training with the first team and has recently gone several weeks without making an appearance for the club’s reserve side. The Montclair native is still a regular inclusion in the youth national team setup and in contention for the Olympic qualifying roster, a brightly lit stage known to attract interest and raise market values.
An attack-minded fullback with a knack for cutting off lanes presents a tactically appealing option for a high pressing system. Once considered deficient in the final third, Gloster is a productive player, frequently pushing forward and getting involved in the build-up and counter-attacks. He is composed in possession and a fairly accurate passer, particularly at the mid-range distance. His one-on-one defending against isolated dribblers could improve, although it is far less of a liability since the 2019 U-20 World Cup, and pass interception remains a strength.
Ignoring notions of great fit and conceivable but unconfirmed interest, the question becomes whether PSV would approve of a loan or transfer, which can only be answered by an official press release. Maybe Gloster signs for the Red Bulls this off-season, maybe he doesn’t. A rumor is a rumor, but this one is fairly plausible and the move could be beneficial to the player and club. While this particular homecoming transfer of a young American might not happen, recent history and gossip suggest more are on the way.