UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J. – For 15 years, New York fans have seen their team’s season end without a trophy, followed by an inevitable offseason rebuild.
Things look no different at the end of year No. 16, as the Red Bulls once again failed to bring a piece of hardware home to Red Bull Arena. The franchise is again hoping to sort out the team amidst another offseason of roster moves and new signings.
Chief among head coach Hans Backe’s concerns are adding a central playmaker and a striker to bolster the offense. Backe denied rumors of Nicolas Anelka joining the Red Bulls, but he said that the process to add some more big-name players to the squad has already started.
“We haven’t decided which direction we’re going, [but] we have names," Backe said on Tuesday. "We need to be quite sharp now, we can’t wait; we have to start this now in November. Get names in and negotiate. We have names in midfield, striker. We shouldn’t rush it or force it, but we know quite well where we’re going.”
According to Backe, no players have yet been contacted about a possible move to MLS.
It appears that the team heads into the offseason with two Designated Player spots already spoken for, as Thierry Henry and Rafa Márquez are under contract and expected to be back in 2012. Former German international Frank Rost, signed to a DP contract in August, likely won’t return to the team.
“I think Frank will go back, I’m quite sure," said Backe. "I hope I don’t say too much, but I’m quite sure he likes to go back to Germany. I haven’t talked to him yet, but I guess it’s like that.”
With Rost leaving, there is one DP slot for Backe and sporting director Erik Solér to fill. Whether there will be another available remains to be seen, as reports surfaced earlier this week that Márquez is perhaps eyeing a move to Mexico, specifically his old club Atlas.
In September, following a 3-1 home loss to Real Salt Lake, Márquez complained about his RBNY teammates not being at his level. He was suspended by the team for the next game and then got a red card following a 1-0 home loss to LA in the playoffs for throwing a ball at the Galaxy’s Landon Donovan. MLS suspended the Mexican international for the next playoff game and he will serve a two-game ban at the start of the 2012 season should he return.
Backe told the media that Márquez would probably return for next year, but when asked about Márquez’s statements of a possible move back to Mexico, the head coach was caught unaware.
“I haven’t heard anything," he admitted. "Next week, we'll sit down with every player individually and go through this year and look for the future. We will have a meeting with [Márquez], too.”