NEW YORK - If all goes according to plan, the New York Red Bulls will soon follow the footsteps of the LA Galaxy and field a team in USL PRO.
Red Bulls sporting director Andy Roxburgh said at the club’s media day on Tuesday that New York are currently well into the process of launching a third-division side, set to begin play next year. Roxburgh told reporters back in December that the Red Bulls had explored the possibility of launching a USL PRO club for 2014, but that they were not able to finalize the plans in time.
That delay, however, has not discouraged the Red Bulls.
"We'll definitely do [it] at the end of this year, because the league are now telling every club they need to do it, so it won't be a debate," Roxburgh told MLSsoccer.com. "The third-division team, the [USL PRO] team, I'm sure everybody will be doing it at the end of this year and we're certainly wanting to do that.
“We see it as a big, big advantage to have that rather than a reserve team because of the regular fixtures, we'll own the players [and] not the league, and so on and so on, so we see it as a big, big move and a big advantage."
The Red Bulls, who have no USL PRO affiliate, are so adamant about starting up the third-division side that they have already begun making changes to their sparkling new training facility.
"We'll need to make sure, of course, we've got the facilities for that, so we're already building locker rooms at the training facility and there'll be seating out there as well, because we'll play the home games at the facility,” said Roxburgh. “We're already well ahead with that and that's what we want to do.”
The addition of a USL PRO team would allow New York a place to really groom their upcoming players, something the club acknowledges they lack at the moment. The Red Bulls have long been a team associated with the "win now" mentality, and it has come at the expense of developing young players.
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Recently, Homegrown player Amando Moreno made the surprising decision to leave the club after just one season to sign with Liga MX outfit Club Tijuana. Roxburgh believes New York would have been able to keep the 18-year-old forward if the Red Bulls had had a USL PRO club, and that is part of the reason why the Red Bulls are so keen on starting one up in 2015.
"That would've been an enormous [help]," said Roxburgh. "We would've immediately signed him, and no argument about it. That's a special case that because we kept him [in camp with us]. The trouble was, and we were stuck because of the salary cap, if he didn't take our offer then he could move on, but it seemed crazy to me. I'm going, 'Why?', and discussions with his agent, they decided to that.
"Personally, I'm extremely disappointed that he wanted to do that. We were really taking care of him. Bluntly, we helped him get into the US Under-20 team. We had a lot to do with that. We did a lot to help him and therefore we feel really, really disappointed about what happened. We wish him all the best, a great boy, but I think he's been badly advised in that particular case, but it was a special case and it's not because we wanted to let him go."
Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached by e-mail at Franco8813@gmail.com.