UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J. – Kevin Hartman’s chances of seeing the field this weekend are slim, but that's still better than they were a week ago.
Having signed with the New York Red Bulls last Friday, Hartman once again has a club to call home after spending the last several months contemplating his next move. The 38-year-old veteran, who is the league's all-time leader in wins for a goalkeeper, surprisingly had his option declined by FC Dallas early in the offseason and, even more astonishingly, lasted a long time in MLS’s open market.
“I made sure I enjoyed every minute that I played there and I didn’t take that for granted,” Hartman told MLSsoccer.com of his time with FC Dallas. “Every time I stepped on the park, I don’t think it’s something you ever get used to, and you never know when you’re going to get that opportunity again.
“I was certainly a little bit perturbed but once I wrapped my head around it and figured where I was in my life and everything, it’s just one of those things where sooner or later there’s going to be a transition. I’m not naïve to that.”
Now, Hartman is a Red Bulls player tasked with providing cover behind incumbent Luis Robles while young netminder Ryan Meara continues his battle to return to full fitness. Hartman will also serve as New York’s goalkeeping development manager, the aim being to help nurture the next generation of goalkeepers for the club.
“It was a process of weeks,” Hartman said. “It was something where they kind of approached me and I had been working with Shutout Goalkeeping, my company down in Dallas in coaching and mentoring young goalkeepers, and they said they had an opportunity within the club to do something, work within the academy for their goalkeeping development and also give me an opportunity to see where my level was and continue to play.
“It was just good timing and something that was a big market in the part of the United States that I’ve never really worked in, so it gave me an opportunity to come up here and experience something different.”
Hartman is not making grand proclamations about stripping the No. 1 spot from Robles, and he's not shy about sharing his appreciation for the Red Bulls, especially now that they have provided him with an opportunity after months being in limbo.
“It’s always been something where there’s certainly an admiration for the amount of effort that Red Bull puts behind the club,” Hartman said. “When I decided I wanted to find a club, I wanted to find the right fit, and this is a club I thought could do stuff fairly quickly.
“Certainly they have the talent, ambitions, I have had relationships with [head coach] Mike Petke and [assistant coach] Robin Fraser in the past. It was just something that was a great match and I’m really looking forward to trying to help out however I can on the field and some of the younger goalkeepers as well.”
Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached by email at Franco8813@gmail.com.