If you include the Tim Ream transfer to Bolton Wanderers, the New York Red Bulls have arguably executed the three shrewdest business transactions in MLS history.
The club transferred Tim Howard to Manchester United for a reported $4 million, Jozy Altidore to Villarreal for a widely cited figure of $10 million and now Ream for a fee placed at $3 million. The return on investment for each player is stunning.
It’s a transfer sum that should serve as a strong reminder to Erik Soler, Hans Backe and NYRB brass, who have lately been criticized for preferring the international player over up-and-coming young Americans. They have even outwardly expressed their views on the SuperDraft and lack of impact prospects they believe are available. That was not the rationale employed just a short time ago in the case of Howard (assigned to NY in 1998), Altidore (No. 17 draft pick in 2006) and Ream (No. 18 pick in 2010).
That trio weren’t the finished product when they joined the club, but they were shown confidence and allowed to play and make their share of mistakes. Today’s club is reticent to do that with national team regular Juan Agudelo, although, ironically, he may very well be the source of the next massive transfer.
Just days after trading another SuperDraft pick for Kenny Cooper (their first-rounder in 2013) and publicly stating their intention of adding another international to fill Ream’s shoes – Wilman Conde is the name that comes up – the Ream deal should come as a wake-up call.
The Red Bulls are probably waiting until further investment in their academy can produce "higher quality" talent that’s ready to play immediately. But why wait? These talents can also develop on the MLS stage NOW if given the chance. It’s time to renew that commitment to American college and academy products and in some cases give them playing time ahead of the internationals.
History has shown – it’s good business.