New York bracing themselves for Ream's departure

UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J. – The future for the New York Red Bulls' two biggest American stars, Tim Ream and Juan Agudelo, is very much up in the air, says head coach Hans Backe.

It appears the Red Bulls are poised to lose Ream, who has played two years with the club since being drafted in 2009 and has quickly solidified himself as a member of the national team. This past offseason, he had training stints with English Premier League sides West Brom and Bolton, and it was the latter club that fell for the center back and made a multimillion-dollar offer this past December.

“I think it will be finalized before the end of January before the season,” Backe told reporters when asked if he anticipates losing the promising player.

Ream seems to expect news in a similar time frame.

"In limbo right now," he tweeted on Thursday evening. "Still waiting on a few things. Hoping to have an answer next week."

Reports have surfaced that a possible target for the Red Bulls to shore up their back line could be Colombian center back Wilman Conde, who recently played for Mexican club Atlas after moving from the Chicago Fire in 2010. The 29-year old center back would seem a good fit to replace Ream and Backe acknowledged the club is exploring options if a sale takes place.

“We know the [dollar] number on the allocation we will get and that will help us a lot [towards finding a replacement], for sure,” Backe said. “We have to wait a little bit until we get that confirmed that he got his work permit until we do any stupid things.”

Agudelo’s departure seems less certain, with reports linking the teenager with moves to the Premier League or the German Bundesliga – Agudelo had training stints with both Liverpool and Stuttgart earlier this offseason. Having parlayed his one full season in MLS into regular playing time with the US national team, the Red Bulls Academy product has become a hot transfer topic since last summer.

Backe called it “a lot of rumors,” then lent more credibility to the talk.

“We’ll see,” Backe said. "I can’t say anything at the moment about Juan if he’s coming back or if there are some other interests."

Ream was not with the team on Thursday for the first day of preseason training, as he reportedly was in England this past weekend watching Bolton. There was no Agudelo either, as he is away with the US national team in Carson, Calif., for training camp and is recovering from a sprained right ankle.