Ibrahim Sekagya
Courtesy of New York Red Bulls

Same jersey, new challenge: Ibrahim Sekagya aiming to become champion with New York Red Bulls

HANOVER, N.J. – The uniform may be nearly identical, but the challenge is new and one Ibrahim Sekagya is looking forward to.

After spending six years with Red Bull Salzburg, Sekagya signed a deal with sister club New York Red Bulls on Wednesday. The 32-year-old center back had been training with New York for the past few weeks and ultimately decided to sign with the team that had been pursuing him since this past winter so as to help them in their efforts to win a championship.

“I want the challenge in my career and this is one,” Sekagya told reporters after practice on Thursday. “I need this team to be champion also. Where I’ve been, I’ve done this. Now, this is a new challenge and I think the players will help and the quality [here] is capable of being the champion.

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A 6-foot-1 defender who has represented Uganda at the international level, Sekagya gives the Red Bulls some sorely-needed depth and experience at center back. Digão is still dealing with a heel injury and Heath Pearce recently had season-ending hip surgery, leaving 18-year-old Homegrown player Matt Miazga as the only option behind starters Jámison Olave and Markus Holgersson.

“He brings exactly what we need: leadership, depth, a supporting role that can also step in,” said Petke. “Markus and Olave are my guys right now. He’s not coming in [to challenge for a spot], he’s not a threat, but as the year goes on, like always, positions are always up for grabs.

“He was brought in because we had a depth problem, and the experiences that he’s had all over the world and the level that he’s played at and his knowledge of the game, once he gets fit, he could be a very good option for us.”

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Sekagya is admittedly not fully fit after arriving to New York a few weeks into what was supposed to be his European preseason, but he does believe he will recover quickly. Once he does, Sekagya hopes to challenge for a starting role, just as he did on the last Red Bulls team he was on.

“I just want to play all the games here,” said Sekagya. “I came to show what I can do. On Tuesday [in a friendly vs. Lyon], also, it will be one of my important games if I get a chance of playing, but I just take it easy now. I just came here, I just have to see how things are going.”

Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached by e-mail at Franco8813@gmail.com.