1:45 pm Aug. 9, 2012
The New York Red Bulls already appeared to have a logjam at goalkeeper.
Ryan Meara, the surprising rookie out of Fordham, had played well enough to merit Rookie of the Year consideration before a hip injury felled him last month. The team had promising Jeremy Vuolo to back him up, but elected to deal for veteran keeper Bill Gaudette, just in case.
Gaudette has been nothing short of spectacular in his five starts, to the point that head coach Hans Backe acknowledged following last week's match against Tottenham Hotspur that Gaudette could push Meara for starting duties even when Meara returns.
What, then, to make of Wednesday's news that the Red Bulls had used their allocation spot to grab Luis Robles, a U.S. international goalkeeper who had played in Bundesliga 2?
The acquisition gives New York four goalkeepers. This is comforting depth, but also a waste of roster spots. It is unlikely to remain that way.
The news has to be considered damaging to hopes that Meara is close to a return. If Meara were ready to come back and, if not simply resume first-team duties, to battle Gaudette for them, it is hard to imagine the Red Bulls bringing in a starting-quality keeper in Robles.
The acquisition is also a further indictment of the team's view of Vuolo, who was considered as likely as Meara to start when training camp began this past winter.
Of course, perhaps the Red Bulls are simply going to trade Gaudette now. That's even harder to figure, since he's been such a good fit from the moment New York brought him in last month.
Or perhaps they have simply acquired Robles to immediately deal him. This seems implausible, as nine other teams passed on Robles before New York grabbed him; they were tenth in line for allocation. That means half the league had a chance to acquire him for nothing, and chose not to. Hard to imagine they will now turn around and trade something of value for him.
So expect further moves as the Red Bulls furiously try and finalize their roster for the stretch run. The safe bet is that further deals will lead to a goalkeeper leaving, or another shoe dropping on Ryan Meara.
They can always get more, apparently.