The definitive NYRB SuperDraft review

Posted on 17 January 2009 by arozsa

The 2009 edition of the New York Red Bulls has some holes to fill that probably cannot and will not be addressed in the SuperDraft. A starting centerback and another striking threat to play alongside Juan Pablo Angel would just be the beginning. However, with the Red Bulls playing in continental competition this year, Head Coach Juan Carlos Osorio has constantly been repeating his mantra of adding depth to his roster in order to deal with the added games next season. Given the restrictions of the salary cap, cheap Superdraft players, especially cap-exempt and talented Generation Adidas players, are the way to do this.

The Red Bulls had four picks this time around (11th, 18th, 29th, 44th), their most since 2004. And just in case I’ve already lost your attention, here is a quick list of some of New York’s better selections in the past five years.

Luke Sassano (32nd pick, 2008)
Dane Richards (19th pick, 2007)
Sinisa Ubiparipovic (33rd pick, 2007)
Marvell Wynne (1st pick, 2006)
Jozy Altidore (17th pick, 2006)
Seth Stammler (18th pick, 2004)
Michael Bradley (36th pick, 2004)
Jeff Parke (60th pick, 2004)
Ricardo Clark (2nd pick, 2003)
Eddie Gaven (12th pick, 2003)

Now, I’d love to compile a list of the Red Bulls recent unsuccessful draft picks, but I’d prefer to keep things positive. Gems can be found in the draft; some needing more polishing than others. How will the 2009 class measure up?

Jeremy Hall (11) – A member of Generation Adidas, Hall is a 20 year old, left-sided attacking player, who according to his college coaches is strong with both feet. Played three years at Maryland, and led the national champions in goals (14) and minutes played his final year. He had ankle problems his sophomore year, but was 100% for his junior year and it showed. He was a Member of the United States U-17 team that played in the U-17 World Cup, and attended Brandeton Academy. He is currently not a member of the U-20 player pool.

Comments: Coach Osorio met this young man on the plane going to the draft, but he was already in his mind, as the Red Bulls traded up in order to get a shot at either him or fullback Kevin Alston from Indiana. They got their man in Hall, and the timing seems right with left sided mainstay Dave van den Bergh being sent to FC Dallas.

Verdict: Budget-wise, this pick is brilliant. Van den Bergh’s salary is replaced on the roster by an exempt Generation Adidas contract. On the field, Hall seems like the perfect fit for Osorio’s system, which tends to keep the backline at home while all the running and crossing is done by the wide midfielders. The kid might be the perfect bookend to Dane Richards as the Red Bulls look to provide service to Juan Pablo Angel, but relying on a rookie to provide the consistency that the Dutchman brought throughout last season is asking a lot. Having Danleigh Borman to share the load will hopefully do enough to keep Osorio from moving Jorge Rojas out to the left. Look for Hall to make a splash early, then fade throughout the year, much like Richards did in his rookie year. If he can come back and be effective in year two, then the Red Bulls have struck gold.

Babajide Ogunbiyi (18) – Called “Jide” on the Santa Clara University roster, Ogunbiyi is a massive (6’4” , 205+ lbs ) 22-year old centerback who came into college as a forward. Jide was born in Rochester, NY, but was called in to try out for the Nigerian U23 squad.

Comments: Osorio clearly had to address the backline in the offseason, and with the loss of Jeff Parke and the disaster that was Gabriel Cichero, centerback was the biggest squad need. Jide had a terrific MLS combine performance, and there certainly won’t be any question of whether he can handle the physical play of MLS.

Verdict: Osorio demands his centerbacks be big and imposing, and Jide fits the bill. In recent memory, only Chad Marshall and Michael Parkhurst have come straight from the draft to be effective central defenders, and only Marshall was an Osorio prototype. Jide may well be a good central defender in a few years; in fact he might even be one by playoff time. But if Osorio wants a starter on opening day, he’d better get on a plane to South America with his checkbook firmly in tow.

Jack Traynor (29)
– A 21-year old left back out of Notre Dame, Traynor was part of an excellent Notre Dame backline that conceded less than a goal a game last season.

Comments: Osorio really doesn’t ask much of his fullbacks offensively, and even moves to a 3-back formation from time to time. This is a position that a rookie can certainly step in and help if they are a willing worker on the defensive end.

Verdict: If Osorio isn’t able to find another central defender, then erstwhile left back Kevin Goldthwaite is going to spend a lot of time playing in central defense. This could open up a spot for Traynor, and if he’s up for the task the Red Bulls will be a much better and deeper team for it. If he can prove he’s on the level of a solid Chris Leitch type player (curb your expectations with pick 29), then this will be terrific pick for the Red Bulls.

Nick Zimmerman (44) – A 22 year old midfielder from James Madison University, where he was named to the All-Conference and All-Region teams his senior year despite being part of a mediocre squad.

Comments: There’s not much out there about this kid, but given his size (6’-0 180), it’s a good bet that Osorio took the best athlete available and plans to see if he can make something out of him.

Verdict: Nobody expects anything out of pick number 44, and if he actually makes the roster he’ll be working part time at Starbucks on the contract they’ll give him (I hear they have better insurance anyway). However, in order to provide myself cover in case this kid turns out to be a world-beater, I will remind readers that New York once selected Jeff Parke with pick number 60, and wouldn’t it be nice to still have him in a Red Bull shirt come midseason?

2 Comments For This Post

  1. Paula Hall Says:

    The verdict on Jide Ogunbiyi is dead wrong. If there is a versatile player who can make an immediate impact on any MLS team it is Jide Ogunbiyi ……He is that good ! Those of us who have watch him in club soocer knows that he is a complete player who spent much time abroad training for his professional career….Pepsi Academy, Lagos, Nigeria ….Futbol de Soulac, Bordeaux, France ….Bolton, England ….. Nigeria 2008 Olympic Squad training camps in Badagry, Ghana, Abuja , Portugal and South Korea. He has been a man of the game since he was four years old but he is bent on completing his finance degree which is a very good idea. Can’t wait for the moment when he is done with school and he can focus on just soccer! Best wishes Jide, you deserve the very best after preparing so well for your career!

  2. arozsa Says:

    I applaud the decision to go back to school and finish his degree. I think drafting well-grounded, intelligent players offers the best chance to get a player to improve and eventually excel in this league. Especially one with the physical attributes and soccer background like Jide.

    However, my verdict that Osorio needs to look elsewhere for an opening day centerback still holds true, even though Jide will be in a classroom rather than on the bench.

    I hope he signs for the team, and I look forward to tracking his progress i Thanks for the note!

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