Every team has to contend with integrating new players during preseason, but the New York Red Bulls are dealing with that challenge even more than most as they continue training camp in Bradenton, Florida.
In the past few weeks, RBNY have been about as active as anybody in terms of roster additions, with Brazilian forward Fabio, defensive midfielder Youba Diarra, goalkeeper Carlos Coronel, and 18-year-old attacker Wikelman Carmona among the new faces. There’s also English fullback Tom Edwards, who has yet to arrive at camp as he awaits clearance of visa and quarantine protocols.
With that many new players, first-year head coach Gerhard Struber admitted on his latest video call with assembled media that creating the necessary chemistry with so many moving parts has been one of his biggest challenges thus far, but said that he’s nonetheless been pleased with the early returns on the training ground.
“With the new players, I think, their integration now is the big challenge. We have many new players, many new talents here,” Struber said. “I think we’ve worked very hard and strong to become every day closer and closer.
“Yesterday the situation with Fabio coming into camp, he’s right now in his quarantine. With Carlos Coronel and Youba Diarra, we have also two new players here that come this week, they cannot train right now with us. I am very happy at the moment that the team comes closer and closer and we make the right steps in our system, in our principles.”
🔴 Building our 𝘁𝗲𝗮𝗺, building our 𝗰𝘂𝗹𝘁𝘂𝗿𝗲 🔴#RBNY pic.twitter.com/aT3HCoLk5D
— New York Red Bulls (@NewYorkRedBulls) March 25, 2021
A pair of new offseason arrivals that have been able to partake in all of preseason is the duo of Andrew Gutman and Cameron Harper, each of whom are coming off recent stints with Celtic in the Scottish Premiership.
Gutman signed with the Scottish giants in 2019, but never featured for the first team, spending the last season and a half on loan with FC Cincinnati. The 24-year-old former University of Indiana standout joined RBNY on an intra-league loan earlier this month after signing with Atlanta United.
“It’s been a good transition for me,” Gutman said in his first video call with reporters on Saturday. “Obviously I’m a new player here, I’m still trying to get to know everyone on the team, all the staff, the style of play and everything. But so far I’ve been enjoying it and I’ve been learning a lot. We’ve made good steps down here in Florida and we’ve just got to continue every day to keep doing that.”
Harper, meanwhile, also joins RBNY after a three-year stint with Celtic that saw him briefly cross paths with Gutman. The 19-year-old attacker made one appearance while featuring mostly for the club’s reserves before his signing with RBNY was announced on March 5.
Harper said on his introductory video call that he’s been treating this preseason as an opportunity to make as strong a case as he can for a role, citing his skillset as an ideal match for the system that Struber has been trying to impart.
“I think I’m quite dynamic, I think I can bring a lot of different weapons. I’m good on the dribble, I’m dynamic going in behind. I can do a lot, I can help the team a lot and I think in training I’ve shown it,” Harper said. “I think with Gerhard, the system that we play suits my style a lot in terms of moving high up the field, that’s where I’m going to get the ball, so all I really need to do is beat one guy, beat two guys, get the ball in the box, create stuff.
“I’m excited to also just learn new positions. I think at my age, I’m only 19, so if I can have as many weapons as I possibly can and I can play as many positions as I can, I can only help myself and help the team. That’s the goal, just hopefully learn as many new things this year as I can and just take it all in.”