Thursday, April 12, 2007

Charlotte Eagles Sign Former Metro, Nelson Akwari

Anybody who knows me understands that I love to know what former MetroStars/Red Bull players are up to. So get used to seeing something on here everytime I hear of one of the near 200 players making a move.

Today, former Project-40/MetroStars defender Nelson Akwari signed with USL2's Charlotte Eagles. He joins former MetroStars #1 Draft Pick, Steve Shak.

Akwari joined the MetroStars in a weighted lottery on August 12th, 2002. To make room for Akwari the team waived Dustin Sheppard. Akwari was performing with the US U23's at the time. Akwari played in 7 games with the MetroStars, starting just 3. His debut was in an exhibition against Chivas where he recorded an assist.

In 2003, he was traded to Columbus along with the MetroStars 2nd round draft pick in 2004 in exchange for the 17th pick overall in the 2003 MLS SuperDraft. The Metros used that pick on current Red Bull player, Tim Regan.

Akwari struggled to blossum into a talented defender for the Crew and did not consistently see action. The Crew then lost Akwari to Real Salt Lake in the expansion draft in 2005. With Real, Akwari started to find a home in the back and looked to secure a starting spot heading into 2006 after a groin injury halted his most succesful campaign towards the end of the season. He got his chance to make a comeback three games into the 2006 season but it wasn't enough to earn a permanent spot as he only ended up playing in 18 games. In the 2007 preseason, Real Salt Lake coach deemed Akwari unworthy of a spot with the team and waived him.

Best of luck to Akwari! His career went from a potential candidate for the USMNT to starting in just over half a MLS team's games in one season down to USL2 the next season.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Kickoff 2007:Player Hypes

As MLS is kicking off its 12th season, there is hype around 3 Red Bulls players: Clint Mathis, Jozy Altidore, and Claudio Reyna.

Clint Mathis may not be starting tonight but has shedded 13 pounds in an effort to get back into shape and regain his early career form. The NY Post has an interesting article regarding the matter and Clint's return here.

Josmer (Jozy) Altidore is ready to take the starting spot up a 17 year old. During MLS' preview, two interesting spots featured Jozy. The first showed the expected top players for MLS this season featuring Jozy and showed his beautiful long distance goal from last season. The second was a cartoon commercial by adidas that started with a player getting ready to kick the ball saying that he kicked the ball too hard and showing the cartoon Altidore carrying a large ball on his back. They pan out to show the 17 year old with a smile on his face.

Finally, Claudio Reyna. One of the biggest signings for the league in the offseason, Reyna is poised to take control of the Red Bulls. The captain was featured as one of the top stories of the offseason along with Beckham, Adu to RSL, and Blanco. As long as his knees can hold up, I think Reyna will live up to all the hype.

Friday, April 6, 2007

The "Designated Player Rule" Hurt RBNY Thus Far

Finally, after an offseason plauged by DP rumors, it's game day. When the Designated Player spot opened up for all MLS teams, it seemed like such a great idea. But let's do a reflection of this.

Bruce Arena becomes head coach of the Red Bulls. Interest spikes that Claudio Reyna will certainly be joining the Red Bulls during the offseason! The Designated Player rule is not in effect.

Claudio Reyna is expected to join the team. All media outlets are reporting it's not for a designated player spot.

The Red Bulls trade away arguable the team's best player, Amado Guevara, for a Designated Player spot.

Claudio Reyna signs. In the hype and excitement, it goes practically unnoticed that he has taken a designated player spot.

With Amado Guevara's replacement, the team is unable to secure any player for the DP spot. Ronaldo, Luis Figo, Zinadine Zidane, Agustin Delgado, Marcelo Salas, Juan Pablo Angel are all rumored to join the team but none ever do.

So, opening day is upon us and we have nothing for Amado Guevara and its pretty well known that Reyna was coming before the DP spots were in effect. That means we could have signed Reyna without a DP spot, kept Amado Guevara and thus had a DP spot to use. Instead we lose Amado Guevara for a DP slot (which can be argued that its for 5 years but we wouldnt have needed it if Reyna was able to be signed on a non DP salary). While Red Bull officials are claiming that they are trying so hard, names in Europe that said they would play with the MetroStars well before the DP rule are suddenly gone. Blanco, who would have made an amazing striker for the Red Bulls, signed with Chicago last week with their DP spot. While only 3 DP spots have been used, one has to wonder where the names that were so interested in playing in New York have disappeared to. The problem before was money. It obviously isn't the case now.

Have RBNY really benefitted from this rule? My guess is that it screwed us. Without the rule, we could still have Reyna and Guevara. With the rule, we have Reyna while Chicago is bolstered with Blanco and LA has brought in Beckham who will make competition tougher. 9 other teams also have a DP spot at their disposal.

So my two cents? Until we sign a player with our other DP spot, we lost Guevara for nothing and we would have still had Reyna regardless.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Trialist Ansu Toure signs...with USL

Ansu Toure has returned to the United Soccer Leagues and has signed with his former team, the Minnesota Thunder. The deal is for two years and confirms Arena's comments about the Red Bulls not signing him with Mathis now on board.

The Minnesota Thunder are one of twelve teams in the United Soccer Leagues First Division. Former MetroStars midfielder, Manny Lagos, is the team's Director of Soccer Operations.

Magee to Chicago?

To start, I hear A LOT of rumors from A LOT of sources. Only about 35% actually comes to fruitation. This is part of the reason I created a blog. This one is a "I heard from a guy who heard from a guy" sorta thing.
In order to sign a Designated Player like the team wants to do, a player from the 18 man roster needs to be released in some way, shape or form. Well, that player might be Mike Magee. Magee has spent most of his career on the verge of breaking out but injuries have set him back. To start the 2007 season, Magee will be on the bench along with four other forwards so the trade makes sense. What makes more sense is that the trade will be for a draft pick (2nd round pick in 2008) and Chicago is where Magee is from. Add in that they can use another forward and this adds up. I'll keep you updated as I hear more.
UPDATE: While watching The Ultimate Fighter tonight (my other passion), I received a phone call from a source telling me I "was full of (you know what)." I contacted my source from which I heard this initally and he is standing by what he heard. I'll keep you posted.

The Number Game

According to Dan R. over at MetroFanatic, Clint Mathis will don his #13 that he wore while with the team back in the early 2000's. Ikangu was initially wearing that number but has now switched to #24.

Poor Elie. Went from a senior roster spot and the number #13 he wanted before Mathis returned and is now back to a developmental spot and wearing a number in the 20's....although Eddie Gaven did wear #24.

Thursday Thoughts

Each Thursday I will bring you some thoughts that I have about the upcoming games, the team itself, MLS in general, etc. Pretty much it will be my two cents. This week, I am examining the team roster and what I would be trying to put on the field if I were Bruce Arena. Let's get started:

Goalkeepers: Danny Cepero (#1), Jon Conway (#18), Ronald Waterreus (#23)
Waterreus brings in the experience we lost with Tony Meola. Look for him to be the starting goalkeeper throughout the season, barring any injuries or defensive collapses. His previous experience with Red Bulls captain, Claudio Reyna will certainly help as the two will be on the same page about many issues. Jon Conway will start the season as he did last year. On the bench. Conway proved solid last season after taking over for Tony Meola. That may have kept him on this team this year after the team brought in Nick Rimando but traded him back to RSL for an additional pick a few weeks later (but that's another story). Conway did have some times between the pipes where he didn't look to sure of himself. That being said, he may be one the most, if not THE most solid backup keeper in the league. As for Danny Cepero, the Ivy League grad will assume the developmental third string spot previously held by Mike Ueltschey and Mike Behonick. Each for a season. Bruce seems to be high on his ability so maybe he can stick around.

Defenders: Marvell Wynne (#2), Hunter Freeman (#3), Carlos Mendes (#4), Seth Stammler (#6), Joe Vide (#14), Todd Dunivant (#16), Tim Regan (#22), Taylor Graham (#26), Hugh MacDonald (#31), Jeff Parke (#60)
Gone are Steve Jolley and Peter Canero. In are...well...look above. What does that mean? Much more depth in the backline which hopefully will lead to the backline being pushed to excel more and reliability should the injury bug hit. The starters from last year will remain with Wynne, Parke, Mendes, and Dunivant anchoring the backline. With Parke fighting off some injuries, it appears that Seth Stammler (normally a defensive midfielder) looks to be getting the nod in central defense according to Ives Galarcep. Also moving to the backline this season is second year player, Joe Vide. Vide played well in his rookie year and saw most of his time in midfield. It appears this season, Bruce is molding Vide into a wing back. Newly acquired Tim Regan and Hunter Freeman will both also battle for time in the starting line-up and can easily earn it. Taylor Graham has also supposedly improved this offseason which is music to the ears of fans who watched him get burnt over and over again last season. Hugh MacDonald, an undrafted rookie, also made his way onto the team with a developmental contract after a successful preseason. Although lacking a truly experienced defender, Mendes and Parke will be together in the central defense for the third season in a row which certainly helps.

Midfielders: Sinisa Ubiparipovic (#8), Claudio Reyna (#10), Dave van den Bergh (#11), Blake Camp (#12), Elie Ikangu (#13), Dane Richards (#19), Dema Kovalenko (#21), Sal Caccavale (#25), Markus Schopp (#32)
With one of the strongest starting midfields in the league look for a healthy lineup to include Kovalenko in defensive midfield with Seth Stammler, Dave van den Bergh and Markus Schopp on the wings (who will play almost as forwards this season) and Claudio Reyna in the middle of the field. In defensive midfield, Kovalenko and Stammler will be pushed by second year, former Manchester United trialist, Elie Ikangu. Ikangu has spent most of the preseason injured but will be ready to go for the opener. Should Schopp not be ready to come back in time from his injury look for the Red Bulls first draft pick ever, Dane Richards (#19 overall) to play the wing. Fans, don't worry. This kid is good and can easily start! What happens if Reyna's knees get destoryed by the turf, you ask? I will address that with my forward situation. Sal Caccavale, Blake Camp, and Sinisa Ubiparipovic may not see much first team time this season, with Ubi having the best chance to come on as a sub.

Forwards: Clint Mathis (#5), Mike Magee (#7), John Wolyniec (#15), Jozy Altidore (#17), Jerrod Laventure (#28), Randi Patterson (#29)
Six players for one starting spot would have most fans excited. Unfortunately this may not be the case as all the mentioned players have negative aspects. Clint Mathis, considered by some the team's greatest player can also be considered the biggest dissapointment. Clint never seemed to recover from a torn ACL after spending a couple more seasons with the Metros then moving to Germany. There Clint enjoyed some success but his well documented antics earned him a spot on the bench until John Ellinger (Clint's old youth coach) gave Clint a job in Salt Lake. After a dissapointing start and fights with teammates, Clint was traded to Colorado where he had more downs than ups. Now back where he made a name for himself, Clint has one last chance to prove to himself, the fans and most importantly coaches around the league that he has regained his form. Remember I said, I'd say who would replace Reyna should the knees give? Cleetus, please regain your early 2000's form! Mike Magee is another player who was very promising but injuries have plagued the career of Magee. He had shown a lot of promise both in midfield and up top but between injuries and yelling at the refs, he hasn't seen much action. This may be his last season to prove he is worth a spot on the team as well. John Wolyniec might be the team's scoring threat this season. Yikes! The former 1999 MetroStars draft pick is now with his fourth stint with the team and is known for his extremely hard work ethic and nose for the goal...oh and being robbed Goal of the Decade! If Wolyniec is starting opening day, I don't think many of us will complain as he may be the best scoring threat. Others will argue that 17 year old, 2006 season savior, Jozy Altidore should get the start. I'll agree with that notion but I am still not comfortable with a second year, 17 year old having the weight of team on his shoulders as the lone striker. Jerrod Laventure probably won't see much time this season, but if he is able to score a goal like he did last season, I'll take him as a late sub every game! Still raw, hopefully the long time MetroStars reserve player can break out of his shell and prove himself this season on his developmental contract. Another raw talent is Randi Patterson. Playing with the U17 and U20s, Patterson made a name for himself in the attack. His critics argue that the supplemental draft choice slipped that far because of his inexperience, height and first touch on the ball. While Patterson may not see any time with the first team this season, hopefully he can learn and be molded into a full team international prospect in years to come.

So my predictions for game day in snowy Columbus?
Ronald Waterreus
Marvell Wynne-Seth Stammler (Hunter Freeman 46th)-Carlos Mendes-Todd Dunivant
Dema Kovalenko
Dane Richards (Markus Schopp 46th)-Claudio Reyna-Dave van den Bergh
John Wolyniec (Clint Mathis 67th)-Jozy Altidore

Goals from Mathis and Altidore give the Bulls a 2-2 tie to start the season. Columbus goals scored by Eddie Gaven and Andy Herron

Wednesday, April 4, 2007


Welcome to our blog! I have added this blog as an addition to the website that I have created to preserve the New York Red Bulls/MetroStars soccer teams history. I will be posting information on this site that nobody has ever heard about. I have quite a few sources around the league as well as a background in working in professional soccer. I will publish some stories as well as rumors and information as much as possible. Stay tuned!