Red Bulls farm local with Fordham goalkeeper Meara

Twice last season, the New York Red Bulls had to call upon their third-string goalkeeper to start games, getting credible efforts from Alex Horwath and Chris Konopka in hard-fought draws.

In the selection of Ryan Meara with the No. 31 pick in the MLS Super Draft on Thursday, the Red Bulls added a goalkeeper to groom for the future and added instant depth. Like Horwath and Konopka before him, Meara is very likely to hold that No. 3 spot for RBNY.

The 6-foot-4 Meara comes to the Red Bulls as a local product out of Fordham University in the Bronx. He’s a physically strong, imposing goalkeeper who controls the area well, and earned rave reviews from sporting director Erik Solér.

“Todd Hoffard, our goalkeeping coach, has been following him for a long time,” Solér said. “We think he’s the best goalkeeper in the college system. He’s big, he’s strong, we need a goalie and he’s from New York.”

New York have realized some success with products from Fordham. In 1999, John Wolyniec was taken No. 7 overall in the draft and in three stints with the team he became a fan favorite en route to scoring 26 goals in New York colors during his long MLS career. Wolyniec is now a coach in the Red Bulls academy system.

Meara comes to MLS with a list of collegiate accomplishments, including being named the 2011 Atlantic 10 Defensive Player of the Year as well as making the All-Atlantic 10 Conference First Team. He made 74 appearances for the Rams, notching 31 shutouts.

The Red Bulls are currently without a goalkeeper, making them even more pleased to have grabbed Meara when the chance arose.

“Every factor that we looked at was there, and he was the player we wanted most from the draft simply because we needed a goalkeeper,” Solér said. “Realistically there were a bunch of others we couldn’t calculate on getting, so we were very happy. We went here with a positive attitude and we got the best out of what we could get.”

Solér also shot down the rumor that the team will sign Renny Vega, the Venezuelan goalkeeper recently linked to the team. The club has parted with Bouna Coundoul and are still in negotiations with former Designated Player Frank Rost for a return in 2012.