UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J. – Losing a national team player and a starting center back is a difficult task for any club, but the Red Bulls are already beginning to prep for life after Tim Ream.
With the Thursday morning announcement that the Red Bulls agreed to a transfer deal to send Ream to Bolton, the club appears to be lining up former Chicago Fire defender Wilman Conde to fill Ream’s shoes in at Red Bull Arena.
Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe told MLSsoccer.com this week that he plans to sign Conde to replace Ream in the middle of the defense, partnering the Colombian with recently signed Swedish international Markus Holgersson.
“With Conde coming in, to me, he’s one of the league’s best center backs,” Backe said. “I think he’s massive with his experience, his physical ability. With the Swedish guy, too, we’ll have two solid center backs.”
Chicago still have the right of first refusal to sign Conde if he returns to MLS. The rumored deal between the Fire and Red Bulls for Conde has not yet been completed, although the Red Bulls are hopeful the deal is signed within the next week.
Conde most recently played in Mexico with Atlas, but he’s best known in MLS circles as the hulking center back who anchored the Fire’s back line from 2008 to 2010. He was named a MLS Best XI selection in 2009, and was an MLS All-Star selection in 2009 and 2010.