Heading into Thursday’s SuperDraft, the Red Bulls are in a unique position.
Unlike last year, when New York landed instant star Tim Ream in the second round, the team doesn’t need a loaded draft to take another step forward in 2011. However, an infusion of youth would be useful for the team from the Big Apple in what they hope is their long-awaited championship season.
New York hold one first-round pick, two in the second round and one in the third. While they could potentially trade out of the first round to acquire more picks, it’s highly unlikely that they’ll trade up in the draft.
Head coach Hans Backe’s primary area of concern is the back line, and he could address the issue with the team's 13th pick. An intriguing pick and a player who has turned some heads is North Carolina's Jalil Anibaba, a well-built central defender who spent his first three years at Santa Clara University before transferring to the Tar Heels. He could be a nice player to one day supplant Carlos Mendes.
The trade of Jeremy Hall to Portland has created depth issues behind incumbent right back Chris Albright and the retirement of fan favorite and team legend Mike Petke creates some backline issues as well. Those two needs will be addressed come draft day for New York.
“Apart from that, we will try to get the best guys who have an option to be the best MLS players,” sporting director Erik Soler said.
[inline_node:326064]And don’t be surprised if Backe and Soler go the route of defender Demetrius Omphroy with the 25th overall pick. The Cal product has been a good at right back throughout the Combine and pushes very well into the attack, something Backe values from his outside defenders. Omphroy was scouted by New York this past fall and could be a valuable piece of depth in 2011 while being nurtured to eventually take over for Chris Albright.
Another second round pick could be one of Anibaba’s college teammates, Dustin McCarty. The younger brother of D.C. United’s Dax McCarty, Dustin doesn’t necessarily fill any area of any need for New York. However, with the league’s newly expanded 30-man roster, the midfielder could provide some solid depth. If he’s available late in the second round, he could be headed to Red Bull Arena.
By the time New York select in the third round, they could well be looking for the best available talent. Jeff Attinella, a goalkeeper out of South Florida, could be a good fit. Attinella could learn plenty from veteran Greg Sutton and be developed to be Bouna Coundoul’s backup. Once again, the expanded roster might let Backe take a flyer on a keeper and perhaps loan out the player for a season of development in a lower division, much like Caleb Patterson-Sewell.
The club’s management will get together on Wednesday afternoon and discuss the possibilities of trades to move up and secure one of the handful of players who they favor. This is Soler’s second MLS Super Draft, so he now fully understands the dynamics involved of the selection day.
“There are some players that we actually really like,” Soler said. “[Moving up in the draft] is going to be a discussion we’ll be having all the way up to the draft.”
Kristian R. Dyer can be followed at twitter.com/kdyer1012.