BY DAVE MARTINEZ
It didn’t take long for Sebastian Le Toux to make an impact for the New York Red Bulls. His game tying strike, and a steady performance from goalkeeper Bill Gaudette guided New York through brutal heat en route to a 2-2 tie against the visiting Seattle Sounders.
All in all, it was exactly what Red Bulls General Manager Erik Soler envisioned when he made his latest acquisitions.
“Me personally, I always liked (Le Toux) as what we call in Norwegian a 'Fishing striker', ones that are always on that line waiting to break through with anything that goes forward,” Soler said of Le Toux’s play. “I think we have the talent and capacity to play balls in to where he needs to have them. I just remember last year before the game again at Philadelphia – ‘Don’t let Le Toux go on those runs.’ It took about 50 seconds and he started doing it.”
While Le Toux proved dangerous for New York, fellow debutante Gaudette stood up to the challenge of his first start as well.
“We’ve been working on (acquiring Gaudette) for a while, simply because we have two very young goalkeepers. Ryan has probably played more games already than he has in a year so we were expecting that in the end he could end up with some strain, issues with injury. It’s more or less a coincidence that it happened exactly when it did but we are happy that we were able to reach an agreement with Los Angeles and bring Bill in,” Soler said. “We had Bill here on a trip to La Manga two years ago. We really like him and know him quite well so we are happy to have him on. It was a good opportunity that came up at that minute.”
“I am pleased with his performance,” Red Bulls Coach Hans Backe said.
New York struggled to gain it’s footing early on in the match. The Sounders took advantage of the team’s new look (a modified 4-3-3) and pressed an exposed back line for the first goal of the match.
In similar instances throughout the years, New York would turn to the speed of Dane Richards to turn the tide. As the Red Bulls coped with their recent turnover, the midfield suffered and the speedy Jamaican’s presence was sorely missed.
“When you trade a player like Dane (Richards), it’s a matter of two different emotions. One is your personal emotions, which is hard because we absolutely love Dane,” Soler mentioned. “He has been a fantastic professional and a great guy. It’s so hard when you like someone as much as both Hans and myself and everybody else does.”
Nevertheless, Soler was quick to point out that the matter was out of his hands.
“He knew he was probably going to leave us in the summer,” he said. “His agent was very clear he was going to go to Euriope. There’s probably offers coming up for him to go in the summer. Then we had to look at it from a professional and business matter, and Sebastian was the right move. We know what he can do. We’ve seen what he can do in Philly. He hasn’t done that well in Vancouver. We believe that it is partly because they played him out of position. We are hopeful with him but of course he needs the help of the rest of the team.
“We know everything that Dane brings us because we had him for so many years. We wanted to try something different, get some fresh air in the attacking part of the game. Sebastian is more an attacker that can play up front. Dane is a natural right sided midfielder. They are two different players and we believe for us there was more value in getting Sebastian at this moment.”
LUKE RODGERS AND A THIRD DESIGNATED PLAYER
The addition of Le Toux put a big question mark on the future of Luke Rodgers. The diminutive English striker has been petitioning the United States Consulate and Homeland Security for a work visa all year long after overstaying his visa last season. Late last week, Erik Soler assured the team would wait on him through August.
Their latest moves changed all that.
“We’ve been working on the Le Toux thing for a while and I didn’t know if it was going to happen in one day, two days, two weeks and that is why I phrased the Luke Rodgers thing the way I did,” Soler admitted. “I sat down with Hans and we said Luke has been someone that we really wanted back but we got Le Toux on, they share a number of assets, the way they play, quick, very hard working that can attack behind the defense of the opponents.”
Soler acknowledged the fact that Le Toux will likely look for overseas options after the completion of the season. Though Richards was under a similar situation, the Red Bulls GM assured that the latest trades were meant to strengthen the side for the short term.
“We were thinking about the next four, five, six months,” he admitted. “We haven’t thought anything further at the moment. We just did what is best for the team. We are confident Sebastian will do very well here and get us some goals. If it works out well, we’ll sit down with him and see (about next season).”
The one thing Le Toux’s acquisition doesn’t change is the team’s endless hunt for a final Designated Player.
“We’re still looking for a DP,” he said. “An attacking DP.”