New York Red Bulls have signed French defender Damien Perrinelle
Courtesy of New York Red Bulls

New York Red Bulls' persistent newcomer Damien Perinelle no "savior," but useful depth for busy fall

HANOVER, N.J. – Having previously had a training stint with the New York Red Bulls that ended unsuccessfully, Damien Perrinelle was determined to earn a contract with the club this time around.

He can now cross that off his to-do list.

After a three-week trial that was admittedly a long process for him, Perrinelle signed a contract with the Red Bulls on Monday that upped the club’s center back total to five.

The move sees Perrinelle leave his native land for the first time in his career. He last played for Ligue 2 outfit Istres and previously spent time at Clermont Foot, Boulogne and Creteil.

His pedigree might make some New York fans skeptical, because it does not indicate that the inconsistent Red Bulls have landed a difference-maker in what is so far their only acquisition of the summer transfer window. But even Perrinelle is honest enough to admit that he does not expect to be the answer to all of the club’s problems.

“I’m another player in the roster, but I’m not Jesus. I’m not here [to be] savior of the team,” said Perrinelle in his first meeting with local media on Tuesday. “I’m here just to help the team and have a good end of the [season].”

Perrinelle, a Suresnes, France native, is still in the process of getting in shape and form, given that he joined New York in the midst of what is normally his offseason. He did not travel with the squad for its Wednesday road game against Western Conference heavyweights Real Salt Lake (9 pm ET, ESPN2), and head coach Mike Petke is not sure just yet when his newest defender will be able to contribute.

Even when Perrinelle is deemed ready, do not expect immediate results. History suggests that most overseas players go through a transition period before fully adjusting to MLS and all of its intricacies.

“I’m going to say it, and I just want and hope that people will understand that he’s not ready yet,” said Red Bulls captain Thierry Henry. “Like I said when Bradley [Wright-Phillips] arrived, like I said when Peguy [Luyindula] arrived, when I myself arrived, when Tim [Cahill] arrived and everybody was like, 'What is this? Who is that player they brought?’ just let the guy adapt to the MLS because it’s not an easy league.

“People come here and [observers] think that they’re going to be straightaway, instant success. It doesn’t work like that, so bear with him. He’s a good player and hopefully he can be a great player for us in the future.”

The future is where Perrinelle – who Henry described as good on the ball, clever, and someone who sees the game well – looks most set to come in handy. With the CONCACAF Champions League fast approaching, New York will soon have a congested schedule that will require them to rotate players so as to avoid fatigue.

Perrinelle should get his chance to shine at some point this fall, and he is more than ready to deliver after finally earning an offer from the Red Bulls.

“I did all what I can do [to earn] this contract and now I’m happy, but this is just the beginning of the story,” said Perrinelle. “Now, I must play, I must impose myself in the team and the best thing is to win the game.” 

Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for He can be reached by email at

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