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New York signs goalkeeper Carlos Miguel Coronel from Salzburg

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Brazilian comes with MLS and UEFA Champions League experience as goalkeeping depth chart in New York grows

KRC Genk v RB Salzburg: Group E - UEFA Champions League
Newly-signed New York goalkeeper Carlos Coronel during a Champions League match between Salzburg and KRC Genk in 2019
Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

On a morning when we looked at the burgeoning ties between the Red Bull clubs in New York and São Paulo, the former added a different type of Brazilian synergy recruit.

New York Red Bulls confirmed the previously reported loan signing of goalkeeper Carlos Miguel Coronel from Austrian sister club Red Bull Salzburg. The loan will run through the entire 2021 season and features an option for New York to purchase his contract permanently if they choose.

New York head of sport Kevin Thelwell expressed excitement at the signing, noting that Coronel “has experience with (New York manager and former Salzburg coach Gerhard Struber’s) style of play” as well as familiarity with the unique logistics of MLS through a 2019 loan stint with Philadelphia Union.

A former Brazilian youth international, Coronel joined FC Liefering in 2015, making 67 appearances. Two years later, he was promoted to Salzburg and has played a few Austrian Bundesliga matches, but failed to break through into a starting role.

However Coronel has still had his moments of success in Europe. In a 2019 Champions League fixture against Napoli, Coronel stepped up for Salzburg amid an injury crisis. He made several crucial saves and was hailed as a savior for rescuing a point. Last year his contract with Salzburg was extended through May of 2023. “He has developed very well and we are convinced that he has even more potential that he can tap,” said Salzburg sporting director Christoph Freund at the time.

But Coronel has found himself with only one match played for former New York manager Jesse Marsch in Austrian play this season. At 24 years old, a change of scenery has certainly been beckoning for the one-time hot prospect.

Coronel is familiar with MLS, having spent part of the 2019 season on loan with the Philadelphia Union. He made four appearances with the first-team and an additional eight with Bethlehem Steel. After six months, the club chose not to activate his option to buy and prematurely ended what was supposed to be a year-long deal.

Early reactions among the New York faithful expressed some puzzlement at the signing given the presence of three goalkeepers on the roster already. Veterans Ryan Meara and David Jensen went back and forth at the number one spot in 2020, a competition seemingly won by the former by the season’s close. Recently acquired Luca Lewis appears to be a long-term development project, expected to spend most of the season in USL with Red Bulls II. The signing of Coronel appears to be a vote of no-confidence in any of the club’s incumbent keepers as Thelwell and Struber overhaul the squad.

It’s possible the odd man out would be Jensen, under the conventional wisdom that there is no need to spend two valuable international spots on goalkeeper. The Dane’s contract reportedly runs through December of 2022, but his struggles last season are well documented. The coronavirus separated him from his family, claiming “he would not have left” Europe had he known about the impending pandemic.

The signing of Coronel also increases the spotlight on the amount of loan signings being made by Thelwell’s new-look front office operation. Coronel joins fellow Brazilian Fábio Gomes Netto and English fullback Tom Edwards as players effectively on a long-term trial in New York over the coming months, with another Salzburg loan reportedly on the way with Malian midfielder Youba Diarra. While such arrangements offer crucial flexibility as New York moves into an uncertain new era under new technical leadership, the lack of commitment to the signings being made by the club is increasingly conspicuous.