Conde ready for action with Red Bulls after transfer, long road to recovery

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Photo by Michael Janosz/ISIphotos.com


By DAVE MARTINEZ

Just months ago, New York Red Bulls centerback Wilman Conde stood on the brink of recovery without a club to call his own. Ushered out of Mexican Primera side Atlas and fresh off rehabilitation from surgery to his left instep, the former Chicago Fire and MLS Best XI defender was in search of a new opportunity.

The oft-criticized Major League Soccer calendar and a pending opening at one of the league's star-studded franchises offered him a fitting alternative.

"The option to come (back to MLS) stemmed from that; that the preseason was a bit longer," Conde pointed out. "The season starts mid-March so it gave me the time to recuperate."

When the search began for a team, the Red Bulls became a likely destination. The Red Bulls were on the brink of selling their second-year starter Tim Ream to Bolton. Their coach, Hans Backe, had long set the goal of adding a physical defender to shore up his porous backline. 

It was a perfect fit for both parties.

"Truthfully, I am very happy, very motivated being here with the team," Conde said. "I've been received very well by both the coaching staff and the team alike. I have many expectations and a desire to do well this year."

Conde's journey to New York and back to MLS has been a winding one, and it is one that Red Bulls management is hoping provides a return on a hefty investment. In order to receive Conde's services, the club had to part ways with a sizeable allocation to pry his MLS rights from the fire.

If Conde can find his past form, then it will be money well spent.

Coming off of a successful four-season stint with the Fire in 2010, doors began to open for the bruising defender. After flirtations with Puebla FC fell through, Atlas presented a unique opportunity to receive consistent playing time at a competitive salary in a respected league.

He made an early impression with his club, scoring a goal in his very first appearance and featuring steadily on the team's backline. Conde was beginning to receive interest from the Colombian national team when a training injury put a temporary halt to his career.

"It was very frustrating," he explained. "I would have liked to stay there, perhaps another year, because the options coming from bigger clubs was also important for me and my career."

His lengthy recovery period put him at a disadvantage when fighting for a roster spot at Atlas ahead of the Clausura season but helped set the wheels in motion for his return to MLS.

Atlas has been in crisis mode. Having finished the Apertura tournament dead last, the team underwent a midseason coaching change, and their directors began putting on the pressure for an immediate improvement in play.

Conde, who had been inactive since April of last year, was still hindered by his medical procedure, but he knew there was little choice but to prove himself in pre-Clausura training camp in order to keep his spot.

"I trained preseason with (Atlas in December)," Conde said. "With the change in staff, they bought in new people. It wasn't necessarily just the injury (that forced me out); they bought in their own players. I decided to take out the screws that were still there from the operation on the 23rd of December, so I had a pair of inactive weeks."

With the situation facing the club, any added waiting time was more than Atlas could endure.

"It was frustrating because I was asking that (Atlas) have patience for at least one more month but they needed the players ready due to the situations surrounding the club," he said. "For those reasons, I had to take a step aside."

And New York stepped in. Conde joined the Red Bulls on Feb. 5 and went through three-a-day training sessions in preparation for the coming season. Though he hadn't seen any competitive playing time, the recovery process seems to have paid dividends. 

"(Thursday), we went for medical exams and they gave me all the pertinent tests; MRI, CT scans – and everything is perfect," a visibly alleviated Conde said. "Everything turned out very well, as we expected." 

According to a source within the team, Conde's regimen was strenuous, but his performance was encouraging enough for the staff to believe he would be part of their opening day plans.

His next big test will come this week, as the New York Red Bulls travel to Arizona for the Diamond Desert Cup. The team will play five matches in 10 days, including a friendly against Mexican club Pumas UNAM. There, Conde anticipates seeing his first in-game action of the offseason.

"I will have a bit more intergration with the team and play a little football," Conde said. "I wouldn't be able to tell you (how many games I will play). The medical staff will speak to the coaching staff and come to an accord, but what I want most is to be in good physical shape to start the season off right."

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18 Responses to Conde ready for action with Red Bulls after transfer, long road to recovery

  1. alec says:

    playing one game out the next is how i see it

  2. Tim F. says:

    Welcome Wilman,

    We have wanted you in New York for a while now but the Fire were always standing in the way. I hope you like New York!

  3. Jspech says:

    Who cares? Do they play in an American league? Can’t ID w/ this te anymore.

  4. What in the holy hell are you blabbering about?

  5. hogatroge says:

    I really hope they don’t manage to scrounge up the extra international spots. I think they’re at 12 players now. 4 slots over, but I don’t know how many extras they’ve picked up already.

  6. Matt says:

    They don’t need extra international slots. Even with Conde signed they probably have at least one additional international slot remaining. Remember, players like Richards and Ballouchy are not taking up international slots.

  7. Fox, the Reactionary Network says:

    Having watched Conde for years, a good physical defender when healthy. He has a knack for long passes on target. He seems like a threat on corners but couldn’t head one in the net when in a Fire jersey. When his head is in the game, he plays well. He seems to have trouble getting along with management. At a Fire open house some time ago for season ticket holders, the owner singled Conde out for the lousy season. Many of us were a bit surprised. The owner failed to mention that the loss of five starters, that were replaced by stiffs, were the real reason for a pathetic season.

  8. tjones says:

    ????? What in gods name are u trying to say?

  9. CSD says:

    I have this suspicious feeling that this deal will work out like the last Colombian from Chicago to New York deal (Juan Carlos Osorio) worked out. I think the success in Chicago will not happen again when moved to the dysfunctional NYRB organization.

  10. hogatroge says:

    Why don’t they need international slots for Ballouchy and Richards?

    Is international status not determined by your FIFA nationality?

  11. hogatroge says:

    Just hit the ever-trusty Wikipedia page and answered my own question.

    Seems pretty silly that you only need a green card to be a “domestic” player. Especially if you represent another nation. I guess it’s not too big of a deal since he’s a CONCACAF guy.

  12. Northzax says:

    It’s not silly, it’s federal law. With a few exceptions, you cannot differentiate between a US citizen and a green card holder for employment purposes.

  13. A. Ruiz says:

    Good player, but I think he quit on the team in 2010 and that’s why Klopas didn’t want him back. He’s probably an upgrade to Rim Ream and will matchup well with Marquez. But if the circus that is NY doesn’t go right, he could just be another sulking player just going the motions if they’re not dominating by august. *cough*rafa*cough*

    He was always one of my fav players on the Fire and would have loved to have him back. Quitting on that team notwithstanging, he must have really burned some bridges in Chicago.

    Hopefully, he sucks now.

  14. hogatroge says:

    Actually, it’s not federal law. We’re talking league rules.

    MLS requires that no more than 8 players on a given roster are internationals. Extra slots can be acquired by trading for them. It shouldn’t matter if you’re a permanent resident…if FIFA considers you to represent another country internationally (a la Dane Richards) and you’re not a dual citizen, you should occupy an international slot.

    I’m pretty sure UK law doesn’t dictate the rules limiting work permits for foreign players, the English FA does.

    Not arguing the reality of the situation, just voicing my objections to it.

  15. hogatroge says:

    Just curious too… how many of RBNY’s foreign players are green card holders?

    Excepting Richards and Ballouchy, NY’s still 2 over the baseline. Not saying they haven’t acquired additional slots, just curious as to how many of the foreign players are legal residents.

  16. Johnny Ramone says:

    Richards has a green card. Ballouchy has refuhgee status.

  17. Sitting Bull says:

    I agree with Jspech! I too am tired of all these foreigners coming over and ruining things. First they’ll take over MLS. Then they’ll steal our land, women & resources. Before you know it, Matt Kassel will be playing on a reservation!

  18. inkedAG says:

    zing!