The New York Red Bulls announced their long-awaited trade to land former MLS Best XI defender Wilman Conde from the Chicago Fire on Monday, giving the Red Bulls a proven MLS starter to insert into the lineup in 2012.
New York gave up allocation money to acquire the right of first refusal to the defender in the deal and have already signed Conde to a contract. He will be added to the team’s roster pending receipt of his International Transfer Certificate.
“One of our offseason priorities was to solidify our defense and adding Wilman certainly does that,” Red Bulls general manager and sporting director Erik Solér said in a statment. “During his stint in Major League Soccer, Wilman quickly established himself as one of the league’s top defenders and he will play an immediate role in our back line. He is strong, physical and experienced and he will be a tremendous addition to our club.”
Conde, 29, was most recently with Mexican First Division side Atlas de Guadalajara, where he made 13 appearances and scored two goals. He’s best known in MLS circles for an impressive stint with the Chicago Fire from 2007-10, when he was named to the MLS Best XI in 2009 and earned All-Star nods in 2009 and 2010. Over his three-plus seasons, Conde played in 73 games, starting 66 and notching four goals and four assists.
He also helped the Fire to three straight postseason appearances from 2007 to 2009, including berths in the Eastern Conference Championship in 2008 and 2009.
“The club is pleased with the talent we’ve assembled,” Fire head coach Frank Klopas said in a statement. “We reviewed the situation and wanted to support Wilman’s return to MLS. The allocation money we received in return will help us continue to build our team.”
Conde originally came to MLS from Colombian club Millonarios, where he appeared in 33 matches from 2006-07. He followed former Millonarios Juan Carlos Osorio, who led the Fire for half a season in 2007 and then took over the New York Red Bulls after his debut season in the league. Conde promptly demanded a trade to New York, a request that was rejected by the Fire front office.
The Red Bulls’ acquisition of Conde comes on the heels of their recent agreement to transfer center back Tim Ream to English Premier League side Bolton as well as the acquisition of Swedish defender Markus Holgersson.
Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe asserted last week that he expects Conde and Holgersson to pair in the central defense for the club this season, while Designated Player Rafa Márquez will shift to a role in the midfield.