2:18 pm Jul. 25, 2012
The New York Red Bulls just completed what is probably their best first half-season in franchise history.
They lead the Eastern Conference, and just took seven points from a three-game homestand.
And now, as the Red Bulls prepare to begin the second half of the M.L.S. season, it appears that high-profile help is on the way.
The Australian international Tim Cahill, an attacking midfielder, is either already a member of the New York Red Bulls, or will be shortly, depending on whether you believe the Everton FC press release calling the deal complete, or the Red Bulls themselves, who have yet to confirm it officially.
Cahill would be a tremendous upgrade for the Red Bulls, an intelligent, dangerous link between the team's midfield and strike force of Thierry Henry, Kenny Cooper and the recently acquired Sebastian Le Toux. Two players who know him well from the Premier League, Henry and Landon Donovan, heaped praise on him this week.
As per the B.B.C., the move is for around $1.55 million; if the English tabloids are to be believed, the Red Bulls are getting Cahill without a transfer fee, with Everton willing to send Cahill to New York for free. The move is described as a reward for Cahill's service with the team, but the budget-conscious Everton ownership is probably happy to lose a high salary in the process. Cahill will make a reported $3 million per year in New York.
For the dreamers, the Red Bulls have also been linked to Brazilian midfielder Kaka, who is out of favor at Real Madrid. The Spanish newspaper Marca reported that the Red Bulls were the high bidder for him. Unfortunately, there are a couple of caveats to consider.
One is that there is a very short time for the Red Bulls to complete a Kaka deal; the transfer window for M.L.S. teams closes on July 27, so the Red Bulls have two days to get that deal done.
Nor can they simply add Kaka. He'd almost certainly demand designated player money. With Cahill in tow, and both Henry and Rafa Marquez on board, the Red Bulls would need to unload one of them. It isn't going to be the man they just signed in Cahill, nor their best player in Henry.
As for Marquez, injured again and active for just eight games this year, it is hard to imagine the Red Bulls don't fantasize about unloading him, and bringing in Kaka as (among other things) a draw for the area's Brazilian immigrant population. But it is probably just a fantasy, as long as Marquez remains so expensive and so unproductive at the same time.
The Eastern Conference's best team added its long-sought attacking midfielder; Kaka will simply have to wait for another day.