In the New York Red Bulls' first game after the summer transfer window closed, they play a Real Salt Lake team that was very active in player movement.
The movement featured a lot of players going away from Salt Lake, on loan to be specific. The team has temporarily moved a number of younger players to USSF Division-2 Pro League teams in an effort to get them more playing time.
David Horst (24), Collen Warner (22), Chris Schuler (22), and Alex Nimo (20) all had seen limited MLS regular season action and were loaned out to get more game experience.
With no reserve division in place for youngsters to see some action, Real Salt Lake added to their loaned list when they sent highly regarded 16-year-old prospect Luis Gil, who had yet to play in a league game yet has been dubbed a future “No. 10” for the United States National Team, to AC St. Louis.
All the activity is a creative solution to the youth development issues that plague the league. The players may not be ready for the demands of MLS, but there is no longer a reserve division in place in order to get players much-needed game experience.
Still, Real Salt Lake is the only team in the league to use loans as an option. It’s difficult to figure why other teams have not taken the same route.
With that in mind the question is, should the New York Red Bulls loan out the highly touted Juan Agudelo?
The 17-year-old forward is a tantalizing prospect. He represented the United States in the 2009 FIFA U-17 World Cup, scored the equalizing goal against Brazil in the U-20 Copa Chivas tournament, had a strong performance in the Milk Cup where the United States was crowned champions, and was recently named to the U-20 roster for a tournament in Peru.
For New York, he has appeared in three U.S. Open Cup games and also played in exhibition matches. Scheduled so the reserves could get some time, Agudelo scored twice against Army and once more against Rutgers.
While he has shown to be a dangerous player, he has not played a single league game for the Red Bulls.
He also does not appear to be remotely close to the field as he is buried on the depth chart behind Thierry Henry, Juan Pablo Angel, Macoumba Kandji, Salou Ibrahim, and Connor Chinn.
Currently, it is not a bad thing to be training with the likes of world-class forwards Henry and Angel, watching them, and learning the position and the game from two elite players.
However, there is no substitute for experience gained in live games; something Agudelo is getting none of currently.
With so much depth at the forward position, no reserve league, and the future of a promising young player at stake it might be in the best interest of New York to follow Real Salt Lake’s strategy and loan Agudelo next season.