Sacha Kljestan opened a lot of eyes when he recently claimed the New York Red Bulls lacked “difference makers.”
Citing Orlando City’s recent signings of Justin Meram and Uri Rosell, Kljestan praised his new club’s offseason moves, while criticizing his former team during a radio interview on SiriusXM FC.
“That is something I’ve wanted in my career. I think we lacked that at the Red Bulls … getting guys that would be difference makers and add to the pieces you already have,” Kljestan said. “I’m excited we have that [in Orlando].”
The comment was a perceived shot at the Red Bulls’ front office, which has been relatively frugal with its spending during Kljestan’s three years in New York. But there appears to be some collateral damage with his now-former teammates.
With the caveat that he hasn’t heard the full interview, Red Bulls midfielder Sean Davis disagreed with his former captain’s claim.
“I think if you’re a person that hasn’t followed the club that closely over the years, you may think that what he’s saying has some truth behind it,” Davis said in an interview with the Seeing Red podcast Thursday night. “But I personally not agree with it.”
Davis wouldn’t fire back at Klejstan, who “says what’s on his mind,” but the 25-year-old who also played three seasons with the Red Bulls said the club’s philosophy is more important that the perception of a lack of “star signings.”
Davis said some new players struggle to integrate because of “how complex and intricate the system is and what [Red Bulls coach] Jesse [Marsch] and his staff have tried to employ”
Davis is a product of the Red Bulls academy system and one of several Homegrown players signed through the years. That build-from-within trend has continued this offseason with New York signing Homegrown players Kevin Politz and Ben Mines, Stefano Bonomo and Florian Valot from the Red Bulls II United Soccer League side, while former Homegrown signee Armando Moreno is back after an unsuccessful bid at Tijuana in Liga MX.
To help bolster a midfielder without Kljestan, who has been one of Major League Soccer’s top playmakers the last three years, the Red Bulls also signed 18-year-old Venezuelan midfielder Cristian Casseres Jr. from Deportivo La Guaira in Venezuela. They also grabbed 27-year-old German Marc Rzatkowski on a season-long loan from sister club Red Bull Salzburg.
In the Kljestan trade, the Red Bulls received striker Carlos Rivas and centerback Tommy Redding from Orlando. The long-rumored acquisition of Alejandro Romero Gamarra from Argentine club Huracan appears to be imminent as well, with a picture of the 22-year-old winger known as “Kaku” at John F. Kennedy Airport surfacing last week.
“I’m really happy with the club and the direction, and [its] courage to build it their own way,” Davis said. “At the end of the day the most important thing is success. At the end of the day, we need to recognize that we need to push the envelope to achieve those goals. I can promise you that every single day the players and staff go out there and work hard to try to improve on our weaknesses and put everything we have into training and into games as well.”