Carlos Rivas (right), the Red Bulls’ latest acquisition, can play the wing or forward. (Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports)
By Michael Lewis
If there were any doubts that the Red Bulls weren’t going to rebuild for the 2018 Major League Soccer season, they officially were laid to rest Wednesday morning.
As expected, the Red Bulls sent U.S. international midfielder Sacha Kljestan and $150,000 in Targeted Allocation Money to Orlando City SC for forward Carlos Rivas and center back Tommy Redding.
ESPNFC.com’s Jeff Carlisle broke the story Tuesday afternoon.
In acquiring Rivas and Redding, the made themselves younger with two young players who have loads of potential. Kljestan is 32.
The 23-year-old Rivas joined OC as a Designated Player in 2015. The Colombian native is coming off his best season with the club, having registered five goals and five assists in 30 matches in 2017.
“Carlos is an exciting young player that can be a threat on the wing or as a forward,” Red Bulls sporting director Denis Hamlett said in a statement. “We think he is a natural fit for our team and immediately improves our attacking options.”
A native of Oviedo, Fla., the 20-year-old Redding was signed as City’s first Homegrown Player in March 2014. He played 18 games in 2016 and 2017 and will vie for a starting spot at center back, a position in which the Red Bulls have been quite thin at the past two seasons.
“Tommy is a player that we’ve kept an eye on as we watched him alongside our own Homegrown Players with youth national teams,” head coach Jesse Marsch said in a press release. “His size and skill line up with what we look for in a central defender and he has demonstrated that he can use both in his MLS opportunities.”
Klejstan became the second Red Bulls captain to be dealt away within a year after the team sent Dax McCarty packing to the Chicago Fire last January.
The veteran midfielder was a key to the Red Bulls’ attack, registered 22 goals and 54 assists across all competitions during his three-year tenure. His best season was 2016, when the former Seton Hall University standout became the second play in Major League Soccer history to accrue 20 or more assists in a season.
“On behalf of everyone at the club, I’d like to thank Sacha for his three years with the Red Bulls,” Hamlett said. “His career here was among the most productive of any player in team history, and he is a true professional on and off the field. We wish Sacha and his family all the best.
“It’s never easy to trade a player, especially one that has been as impactful as Sacha. That said, this move is in the best interest of our club now and for the future. We are adding two young, exciting players that have MLS experience.”
Kljestan is expected to replace Brazilian playmaker Kaka, who announced his retirement after a three-year stint with Orlando City SC after last season
“Sacha has been a massive contributor to our current club culture and team success,” Marsch said. “Saying goodbye to him is an incredibly difficult thing for all of us. He should be considered a club legend and has left a lasting impression on everyone. We wish him great success in the future and we know that he will always be a big part of this club.”
Orlando City FC welcomed Kljestan with open arms.
“We are thrilled to bring Sacha to Orlando,” general manager Niki Budalic said in a statement. “His ability to see the field and make the final pass will be huge assets for us. But more than that – he’s a winner. He’s won everywhere he’s gone, and we look forward to that continuing here.”