One down, one more definitely to go and perhaps even more possible additions for a New York Red Bulls side that appears to be doing some reloading during the summer transfer window.
Fidel Escobar has gotten his paperwork, the team announced on Thursday, making official a long-rumored addition. A Panamanian international, Escobar brings much-needed depth to a backline that has struggled at junctures this year. But the addition of Escobar is likely just the beginning.
Muhamed Keita, a Norwegian U-23, has been linked with the club strongly in recent days and could be the next signing to be made official.
But wait, there’s more.
Another addition or two might be in the mix for a Red Bulls side replete with allocation money and roster flexibility.
Earlier this offseason, head coach Jesse Marsch said that the team could be eyeing up to three additions this summer window and it appears that the club is still wading through those evaluations.
“Well, I think we have room to make even more than three. We’re still evaluating and looking at different situations with different players,” Marsch said Thursday.
“I think there’s two for sure – and Fidel is one of them. From there I think we’ve got a few others on the radar and see how our team rounds. I think it will be important to get Fidel and our next one into the team and really get them integrated and address what we think, how they’re thinking, what’s next.
“We have a lot of flexibility in our roster right now. Every year, we try to leave in the mid-break to make improvements from a player perspective. This year’s no different.”
One bit of intrigue comes in the form of Dilly Duka. Recently released by Columbus Crew SC, Duka came up through the Red Bulls Academy and has a strong MLS resume.
He trained with the team on Thursday and is an attacking option that makes plenty of sense for the Red Bulls to explore.
Marsch corrected the idea that it was merely a local player – Duka hails from nearby Montville, N.J. – getting in some training.
“I would say it’s more we’re evaluating him and seeing what it looks like. I’d say it’s more than just a training stint,” Marsch said.
“I even made it clear to Dilly: We know he’s local kid, he’s connected to our academy, I know he’s been around. I’ve watched him over the years, I know he’s a talented guy. Let’s see if he can acclimate to how we do things here.”
For now, Escobar is in house with his deal all closed-up. He seems to be an ideal fit for the Red Bulls backline and the prototypical signing for what this team is trying to add.
“We’re excited. We’ve been tracking him for awhile. During the Gold Cup, we were able to spend a little bit more time with him and get to know him. Then it became more clear that he’d be a good fit,” Marsch said.
“He’s got to acclimate a little bit, learning English and being in the US. We think he’s a very talented young center back who plays the way we like to play and has a very high potential to fit right into our system.”