MLS Superdraft: New York Red Bulls Raise Eyebrows by Taking John Rooney
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Wayne Rooney is one of the most famous, talented and controversial characters in world football. Entering the peak of his career with Manchester United and England, we are unlikely to see him move to Major League Soccer anytime soon.
One Rooney that is coming to America, however, is his younger brother John, who was drafted in the second round (25th overall) of the MLS Superdraft by the New York Red Bulls.
The midfielder/forward had declared his interest in coming to the United States after trials with Derby County and Huddersfield Town came to nothing. Prior to that, he spent two seasons at Macclesfield Town scoring 3 goals in 41 appearances.
John will be joining the Red Bulls alongside fellow 2011 draftees Corey Hertzog (first round, 13th overall), Tyler Lassiter (second round, 30th overall) and Billy Cortes (third round, 38th overall).
The selection of pacey forward Hertzog in particular should delight fans. The Penn State alum was the 2010 NCAA leader in goals (20), points (46) and points per game (2.09).
But it is not just his stats and performances that will endear him to Red Bull's supporters. His availability in the draft was due to his decision to turn down the opportunity to sign with New York's I-95 neighbors, the Philadelphia Union. Just another minor twist in the New York-Philadelphia sports rivalry.
New York will hope this crop of draftees will bring about the same success as the 2010 class, arguably the finest draft of New York's 14-year existence in the league.
Tim Ream came from nowhere to become a perennial starter at center defense and played in every minute of every game en route to a Rookie of the Year nomination. Tony Tchani appeared in 27 games last season, with his talent continuously developing as the season wore on.
Conor Chinn showed his ability to score goals (3 goals in four games in the US Open Cup), where as Austin Da Luz and Irving Garcia has injury ridden rookie season, they both showed glimpses of their talent and potential.
The Red Bulls have the majority of their Eastern Division-winning roster back for the upcoming season, including the new signings (though not officially announced) of Englishman Luke Rogers, Norwegian Jan Gunnar Solli and Brazilian Marcos Paullo.
A deep squad was one of the reasons the club was able to turn around from the worst team in the Eastern Conference to the best. With that said, it could be difficult for their new batch of rookies to break into the starting 11 (unless the club once again continues its policy of selecting the "Baby Bulls" for US Open Cup matches).
The return of the reserve league this season will at least give the youngsters much more opportunity to develop in live matches and show their worth to the first team.
However, if all are capable of making it onto the newly expanded roster for the upcoming season and at least one can be the "out-of-nowhere" star that Tim Ream was, the second-year management team of Scandinavians Eric Soler and Hans Backe will be delighted with the draft.
The only thing this season that will delight the players, staff and fans, however, is if the new additions to the team are just what New York needs to tip them over the edge and onto their first MLS title.
Then, at least, John will join his brother Wayne as a Rooney with a league title to his name.
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