HANOVER, N.J. – Brandon Barklage and Kosuke Kimura have spent the entire season going back and forth at the New York Red Bulls right back spot, with neither able to impress consistently enough to fend off the other and make the position permanently theirs.
Now, there might be a new contender to challenge them.
Markus Holgersson lined up at right back for parts of the Red Bulls’ training session on Wednesday morning instead of the more traditional center back spot he has played at since joining the club in 2012. Afterwards, Holgersson talked as if he was preparing himself to play the position that has not been settled this season.
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“We’ve had some talks about it,” Holgersson told reporters when asked if he had discussed playing right back with head coach Mike Petke. “Brandon, Kosuke, they’ve played well and now it depends on which guys we want in the team and how we want to build up. That is also a thing maybe I can bring to the right spot of our game, like we can build up both with Heath [Pearce’s] left foot and then we can use my right foot on that side and that was a little bit of what I missed before.”
Holgersson’s speed, or lack thereof, may be a cause for concern, but tactically the Swedish defender knows the position. He has played at right back previously in his career and has seen sporadic minutes there while with New York.
“I hope to try and read the game and try to help the team from the right side,” said Holgersson, who also admitted lightheartedly that his crossing needs work. “We can hold the line and when we go forward sometimes we miss to tuck in a little bit, and I hope I can just help the team.”
Who would replace Holgersson should he start at right back on Sunday against the Houston Dynamo (2 pm ET, ESPN2)? The versatile Heath Pearce seems like the main candidate, though he, too, could line up at right back given his previous experiences there.
“It’s our first day back, we’re trying new things,” said Petke. “Of course, we look at [Holgersson]. We look at Heath at right back as well. Brandon and Kosuke are still in the mix, but we’re looking at other options.”
So much so that the Red Bulls had a new face in training on Wednesday in the way of Ibrahim Sekagya, a 32-year-old defender who has played for Red Bull Salzburg in Austria in recent years.
Petke would not call Sekagya a trialist but also did not rule out signing the Ugandan international, who has made 26 appearances and scored three goals at the international level. Sekagya's contract with Salzburg is set to expire in four days, meaning that he will become a free agent at the end of the week.
“It’s someone that has been on our radar, someone from preseason we were looking to get in to have a look at and see what our options are,” said Petke. “We’re able to do that right now. You can call it anything you want. Obviously, if anybody comes over and trains with us and impresses us and we feel it can be good, we’re going to try and make things happen.”
Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached by e-mail at Franco8813@gmail.com.