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Red Bulls finalize Reyes transfer, trade Parker in whirlwind Tuesday

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Colombian starlet primed to be direct replacement at center back for veteran sent to Houston

Senegal v Colombia: Group A - 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup
Newly-signed Red Bulls center back Andrés Reyes playing for Colombia at the 2019 Under-20 World Cup
Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images

After a quiet first two months, it was a scorching opening day to the hot stove season for the New York Red Bulls.

The club swapped out center backs in a matter of hours as they confirmed the permanent signing of Colombian youth national teamer Andrés Reyes for an undisclosed transfer fee before trading American international Tim Parker to Houston Dynamo for a $450k base allocation fee that could rise to $1 million.

Following a flood of rumors after a loose Instagram post on Friday revealed Reyes to be near the club offices, New York confirmed the signing of the 21-year-old from Colombian giants Atlético Nacional. Reyes will not be new to MLS as he made 13 appearances last season with Inter Miami, who had stated their wish to re-sign him in the club statement announcing the expiration of his loan.

A report from SBI stated that a Belgian club had been in talks about signing the 6’1” center back before New York sporting chief Kevin Thelwell made his approach to Nacional. Head coach Gerhard Struber expressed his excitement “that he chose our club” in a team statement and continued that “he is a big talent, and his skills make the team stronger and more stable.” Reyes has been a fixture in Colombia’s youth national teams during his professional emergence, most recently appearing in four of his country’s games at the 2019 Under-20 World Cup.

SOCCER: OCT 03 MLS - New York Red Bulls at Orlando City SC
Veteran center back Tim Parker had seen his form rebound in the 2020 campaign
Photo by Andrew Bershaw/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

For the remainder of the afternoon speculation raged about whether the signing of Reyes meant the imminent departure of Parker or fellow incumbent center back Aaron Long, or whether Reyes was meant to be more of a depth signing to be lined up for a future starting role. These discussions were ended quickly when it was announced in the early evening that Parker had been traded to Houston. The initial fee involves $450,000 of General Allocation Money to be used towards salary cap space and transfers, and could rise an additional $600,000 in allocation benefits should Parker meet undisclosed performance figures with his new club.

The 27-year-old Parker arrived on the eve of the 2018 season as the final jigsaw piece in the team that went on to break the league’s regular season points record on the way to a Supporters Shield title. The red-haired Long Island native became a fan favorite and thrived early on as a mobile center back in Jesse Marsch’s frenetic pressing game, but saw more indifferent form under Marsch’s successor Chris Armas as he struggled to adjust to the slower, more possession-based game Armas sought to introduce. Though his form rebounded during the 2020 season, Parker’s high salary cap hit and appeal to other MLS teams as a veteran domestic player made him one of the more likely assets to be moved as the club transitions with a new sporting chief and head coach.

Tuesday’s shuffle leaves New York with Reyes, Long, Egyptian international Amro Tarek, and recently re-signed reserve Sean Nealis as the club’s center back corps going into 2021 under new manager Gerhard Struber. While Parker’s leadership and experience will be missed, the chance to sign a coveted young South American ahead of domestic and European bidders turned out to be an opportunity too good for Thelwell and Struber to pass up as they continue a quiet overhaul of the New York squad.