Armchair Analyst: Matt Doyle

Armchair Analyst: Roster build status for New York Red Bulls

Under construction

The Offseason So Far: Hear that? That's the sound of inevitability.

RBNY lost Grella in the first stage of the Re-Entry Draft, and then Gonzalo Veron in the second. They let Damien Perrinelle walk at the end of his contract, and didn't pick up options on either Sal Zizzo or Gideon Baah. All told that's something like 300 games of all-competition experience (and lots of cap space) heading out the door this winter.

The on-the-fly rebuild that began with the McCarty trade last year is in full effect, so you should expect Jesse Marsch and Denis Hamlett to add pieces everywhere except 'keeper. Those pieces can come from within (they just signed two players from their USL squad), but there's a growing suspicion around the league that there will be one BIG signing coming from Europe. New York have the room for it, as Veron's departure officially opens up a DP slot for next season.

A very easy guess is that said BIG signing would be an attacker of some sort, but here's the question: Will that be alongside of, or in place of Sacha Kljestan? Kljestan has been phenomenal in his three years in Harrison, but he's 32 and...

That "likely" is an operative word here, especially as other teams have reportedly jumped into the potential trade pool. Kljestan's 32 but he just became the first guy ever to lead the league in assists twice in a row, so he's got value. I am assuming that the RBNY braintrust are trying to ignite a bidding war.

So my guess is whoever the BIG arrival is will be in place of the departing playmaker, which really does make this offseason a rebuild. And given how flexible Marsch has been with his tactical approach, I'm not certain what that means for next year's Red Bulls in terms of either formation or upside.

UPDATE: Looks like the BIG signing is Huracan playmaker Kaku Gamarra, who is young (just 22), eccentric and fun:

December 22, 2017

Never a quiet offseason in New Jersey.

JAN. 2 UPDATE: So yeah, the "likely" landing spot for Kljestan turned out to be a different sunny locale. The Red Bulls are shipping their captain to Florida (at the time I'm writing this it's not official, but I bet it will be by the time you're reading this), and it's a pretty big deal. Kljestan's three-year assist total (51) is the second-best three-year haul of any playmaker in league history, and everything RBNY did flowed through him. When he didn't play, they didn't have ideas.

And now that band-aid's been ripped off. Marsch & Co. did something similar last year when they shipped McCarty out, and they lived to tell the tale even after a rocky spring. Perhaps lightning will strike twice.

The return for Kljestan was not what I'd imagined. Tommy Redding is a good, mobile, high-upside young center back. Those don't grow on trees and RBNY needed one, so fair play. But Carlos Rivas? The 23-year-old Colombian attacker is technically gifted, but he's more liable to kill an attack than ignite one given his shoddy shot discipline. I mean...

What, uh, what would you say it is you're doing there, Carlos?

Anyway, it's a good bet that RBNY will veer more toward mobility in 2018. Muhamed Keita is already in the fold as a possible (probable?) Kljestan replacement, and while the Kaku signing hasn't come through, it's not dead yet. Neither is the possibility of signing 21-year-old Uruguayan CB Yeferson Quintana of Peñarol.

All those guys can move. It'll be a different-looking team in Harrison next year. Whether it'll be a better team... well, the jury's out on that one.

JAN. 24 UPDATE: Quintana signed with San Jose, not the Red Bulls. Truth is RBNY wouldn't have had room for him on the backline, which is got more crowded on Jan. 3 when they signed Homegrown center back Kevin Politz. The attack got crowded as well, when they inked Homegrown attacker Ben Mines, and then brought former Homegrown attacker Amando Moreno back from Tijuana, and drafted attacker Brian White – a local kid who played for the RBNY PDL team (and won league MVP), but was not a Homegrown.

When they finally turned their gaze elsewhere, it was down south to sign 18-year-old Venezuelan d-mid Cristian Cásseres, Jr. As of this writing that deal's not quite done, but here's the kid at preseason:

Abraham Zapruder sends his regards. And it's pretty clear at this point that NYRBII is gonna be stacked.

What's less clear is what's happening with Gamarra, though it seems like things are in the home stretch. It also seems like another Huracan attacker, Ignacio Pussetto, could be joining him.

RBNY behaved like a small-market club for the last few years, with mostly very good results. It now looks like they're about to spend like a big-market club again, and with that there can be only one goal: The franchise's first MLS Cup.