It appears the New York Red Bulls are getting closer to signing defender Tim Parker, whose rights were protected ahead of Tuesday’s MLS Expansion Draft for FC Cincinnati, the club announced on Monday.
Although he will be out of contract, Parker is part of the protected 11 for the Red Bulls, who announced they have extended a “Bona Fide offer” to the central defender and retained his rights for the expansion draft and made him ineligible for the MLS Re-Entry Draft, which takes place on Dec. 14 and Dec. 20.
At the club’s end-of-season media availability on Dec. 3, Red Bulls sporting director Denis Hamlett said signing Parker to a new deal was a top priority.
“When we made the trade for Tim, we knew he was an important piece. And I think he’s come in and helped us in an amazing way in terms of his leadership,” Hamlett said. “I think with him and Aaron, probably the best center back combo [in the league]. I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure we retain Tim here. We’ve got ongoing negotiations with him. We feel that hopefully we can get something taken care of.”
Among the 14 unprotected players are eight currently under contract. That list includes 25-year old French-born midfielders Vincent Bezecourt and Florian Valot, who both showed flashes before season-ending knee injuries. Bezecourt, 25, had two assists in five starts in nine regular season appearances while Valot was enjoying a breakout professional career with there goals and five assists with 13 starts in 14 appearances.
Valot, who was signed from Red Bulls II in December, suffered an ACL tear in his left knee during training in July that required surgery, while Bezecourt, who was re-signed in December, suffered a sprained MCL against Columbus Crew SC in June.
Also unprotected, but under contract, is veteran Connor Lade, who can play both fullback positions. The 29-year-old just completed his seventh year with the club, earning 15 starts in 21 appearances during the regular season.
He also played both legs of the Eastern Conference finals after Kemar Lawrence went down with a knee injury.
Also available for selection by FC Cincinnati are young defenders Kyle Duncan and Hassam Ndam, midfield acquisition Andreas Ivan and forwards Anatole Abang and Brian White.
Others protected were goalkeepers Luis Robles and Ryan Meara, defenders Kemar Lawrence, Aaron Long and Michael Amir Murillo, midfielders Christian Casseres, Sean Davis, Kaku and Danny Royer and forward Bradley Wright-Phillips.
They’re joined by homegrown players Derrick Etienne Jr., Evan Louro, Alex Muyl, and Ben Mines, who are on the supplemental roster and are automatically protected.