The most intriguing pick-up in the 2012 MLS Superdraft was the one not made in Kansas City.  The Portland Timbers traded forward Kenny Cooper to the New York Red Bulls for the team’s 2013 first round Superdraft pick and conditional allocation money.  The move, announced prior to the draft, clears up some intriguing personnel conundrums for both teams.

For Portland, it allows them to end the Cooper experiment after the team picked him up via free transfer.  His season was decent, as he scored 8 goals for the Timbers, but it was marred with inconsistency and a falling out with head coach.  His trade frees up cap space and adds another pick in next year’s draft.  In addition, if the Red Bulls keep Cooper for a second year they will receive an unknown but significant allocation amount, according to Ives Galarcep.

The trade for New York, however, shows their concern with the forward position.  Here is a list of the forwards under contract with the Red Bulls and why this trade makes sense in light of each of their situations:

  • Thierry Henry: I know it is only supposed to be a two month loan deal to Arsenal, but ask any Arsenal fan and they will tell you that extending Henry for the rest of the season would be an excellent move for Arsene Wenger.  The rigors of half an BPL season (as well as Champions League and FA Cup) will take away any offseason rest Henry would have gotten.
  • Juan Agudelo: I noted in my NY “Three Questions” post that Agudelo’s falling out with Hans Backe has been followed by renewed interest from Liverpool and a few other clubs overseas.  The tea leaves seem to read that a transfer that will net the Red Bulls some money will occur in the near future, a move endorsed by both parties.
  • Luke Rodgers: Michael Lewis reported in the aftermath of the trade that a concern in the front office was that Rodger’s U.S. visa would not be renewed in time for the start of the season.  Rodgers was on a one-year work visa to play in the U.S., and his arrest record in England is delaying that extension.  Combined with Agudelo’s seeming departure, this delay would leave the team very weak at forward.
  • Corey Hertzog: Certainly has potential, but having him as a full-time starter in 2012 is not a good proposition for a team that has MLS Cup aspirations.
With the team drafting a keeper in today’s draft, it looks like New York’s focus will now turn to the midfield and seeing how the rest of their forwards shake out.  But the trade certainly signals that Red Bulls fans could be seeing some new faces in 2012 up front.