Thursday, February 08, 2007

N.Y. Red Bulls (gasp) Look to Their Market -- The New York Times is reporting that the Red Bulls are looking at veteran Ecuadorean striker, Augustin Delgado. The team has one open designated player slot, and hopes that Delgado would appeal to the particular demographics of the New York metropolitan area. Delgado has played for several Mexican clubs, so he will be familiar to the large number of Mexicans in the area. More likely though, he will bring out a substantial portion of the local Ecuadorean immigrant community, to the Red Bulls games. Ecuadoreans are reportedly the third largest Latino national group in New York, after Mexicans, and Dominicans. I would assume that this does not consider native New Yorkers of Puerto Rican descent.

The presence of a large number of Ecuadorean immigrants in the New York area has been recognized by Ecuador's own soccer federation, which has made Giants Stadium a home away from home in recent years. It's about time that the Red Bulls took notice of this dynamic. Perhaps this news reflects the new influence of Bruce Arena, Jeff Agoos and John Harkes, who surely remember what the presence of Raul Diaz Arce, Marco Etcheverry and Jaime Moreno did for D.C. United in building a fan base among the Washington D.C area's large Salvadorean and Bolivian immigrant populations.

The New York franchise has done a terrible job of marketing the team, and building any kind of fan base. The team hasn't signed Delgado yet, and a recent story on the MLSnet website quotes Agoos as saying the team really doesn't have room under its cap to add a designated player. Bulls Looking for Wiggle Room. Still, the team's reported interest in the star striker is good sign that the new management is moving in the right direction.

Adding Delgado up front, along with Claudio Reyna, in the midfield, would go a long way towards making the Red Bulls more competitive on the field, and a lot more popular in the stands. When David Beckham comes to New Jersey on Aug. 18th, the Red Bulls may find that ticket sales will approach a sellout. The trick will be to get those soccer fans to return to see the local team play, when Beckham's not in town.

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