RED BULLS GEAR UP

New York Red Bulls’ Dane Richards (19) and Colorado Rapids’ Luis Zapata (21) go up for the ball in the second half of an MLS soccer game in Harrison,
Associated Press / Julio Cortez, File

The New York Red Bulls are in Bradenton (Fl.) readying for the upcoming season with new coach Jesse Marsh, his staff and several new trialists. According to news from the club, among the new faces in the hunt for a roster spot is a very familiar one in Jamaican international and former Red Bull, Dane Richards. The speedy Richards was a fan favorite here and many rued his transfer to the Vancouver Whitecaps at mid-season in 2012 after several eventful years as a Red Bull, for forward Sebastien Le Toux, who was a flop and didn’t last beyond a year. Marsh, though, seems to have an open approach to fielding the best team possible and is leaving no stone unturned in his efforts.

Richards, who is second in appearances all-time for the Red Bulls with 147 from 2007-12, bounced around European clubs the past two years. After a free transfer from the Whitecaps in 2013, he made stops at English League club Burnley and Norwegian club Bodo Glimt.

“Dane has qualities that could fit into the way we want to play,” said Marsh. “Obviously he has experiences here – I think his time here was good for him and the club. We’re taking a look at him and knowing there’s potential for him to be available and how it might fit.”

Richards played an integral part in the club’s most successful year, in the 2008 MLS Cup run, and scored 21 goals and 24 assists as a Red Bull. “My mind is not on a contract my mind is on playing well and eventually things will fall into place. Right now I’m just focused on training hard,” Richards told the Red Bulls media.

The team will lay play four matches at the IMG Suncoast Pro Classic in the next two weeks, which would be the last looks for Richards and other invitees, including defenders Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, previously with Chivas USA, Canadian international Karl Ouimette, Jamaican international Kemar Lawrence and Anthony Wallace, previously of the Colorado Rapids.

Local boy signed

Meanwhile, the Red Bulls on Tuesday announced that the club signed local product Mike Grella of Glen Cove (LI), a former Duke University All-American, who was drafted by Toronto FC in the 2009 MLS SuperDraft.

“Mike has come into camp and earned this contract,” said Marsh in a statement. “He showed up and has worked hard since day one. His form has been great, but his attitude and work ethic have been even better.”

Grella, now 28, made 40 appearances for Leeds United in the English League Championship and also appeared for Danish SuperLiga side Viborg and last April signed with the Carolina RailHawks of the NASL.

“We’re very pleased with what Mike has shown us,” said Red Bulls sporting director Ali Curtis. “He embodies attributes we’re looking for in terms of character and effort. We feel that he will add value to our roster and be a positive presence for our club on the field and in the locker room.”

The Red Bulls also signed recently retired defender Ibrahim Sekagya, who played for the club since 2013, as a member of the technical staff.

Switzerland’s Xherdan Shaqiri, left, fights for the ball with Jamaica’s Kemar Lawrence during the international friendly soccer match between Switzerland and Jamaica at the Swissporarena in Lucerne, Switzerland, Friday, May 30, 2014.
Associated Press / Keystone, Peter Klaunzer, File

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