UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J. – As the New York Red Bulls prepare to leave for Mexico next week to begin the next stage of preseason training, they will be taking a flier on Icelandic U-21 international Victor Palsson (right).
The central midfielder will join New York on trial as a guest player.
Contrary to prior reports, the signing of Palsson is not imminent, even though head coach Hans Backe rates the youngster very highly. A box-to-box midfielder, Palsson recently played for Hibernian in the Scottish Premier League after spending time at Liverpool and seems poised to join the growing Scandinavian connection on the Red Bulls roster.
“I would like to see him now in Mexico,” Backe told MLSsoccer.com. “He will probably join in tomorrow a little bit in training, then we leave for Mexico on Monday. Let’s see him in a couple games, because I haven’t seen that much of him before – [just] a little bit at Hibernian.”
While he did not train with the team on Friday afternoon, Palsson was at Montclair State University to observe the club’s morning session and greet his potential new teammates. With Backe telling MLSsoccer.com that he plans on playing with two holding midfielders to start this season, Palsson is likely to compete with Rafa Márquez, Dax McCarty and Teemu Tainio for one of two central midfield spots in the starting lineup.
“Like all the Icelandic guys, they’re such hard workers – a winning mind,” Backe said. “He’s a good passer of the ball and he has quite a good pedigree with Liverpool and Hibernian. He’s very, very solid and hardworking but a good passer of the ball. I think he’s a guy who can score some goals, be good on set plays.”
Palsson is not, however, the name Backe he was hinting at in his remarks earlier this week about hoping to added a defensive minded presence to the midfield. That deal appears to be falling apart.
“We’re still waiting but I don’t think it will go through,” Backe said. "I just have a feeling."
Agudelo on the mend
After injuring his ankle during US national team camp earlier this month, Juan Agudelo returned to the Red Bulls facility on Friday but did not participate in training.
“He will be out – I talked to the trainers – three, four more weeks,” Backe said.
Several weeks ago, Agudelo was the center of transfer speculation linking him to Liverpool and Stuttgart, but Backe sees the young forward as part of his set-up for 2012.
“I expect that,” Backe said.
Then there were five
On Monday, the Red Bulls had 16 trialists in camp, all battling for a shot at joining the team in Mexico next week. Backe told MLSsoccer.com on Friday that five players – Ryan Maduro, Giorgi Chirgadze, Brandon Barklage, Jose Angulo and Jhonny Arteaga – have been invited to travel south of the border on their preseason tour.
In addition, third-choice goalkeeper Chris Konopka trained with the team on Friday as a guest player. Backe said that no further goalkeeper additions are in the offing although “there are names,” and a trialist might possibly join the team in Mexico.