- Posted: 12:19 PM, August 14, 2012
“We will have a chat today and tomorrow with him about contract. But if everything looks good, we will try to signhim,’’ Backe said after Sam impressed assistant coach Mike Petke in yesterday’s reserve game. “He made some decent (plays), he played absolutely ok in that game. That’s why I said “ok, he’s done well in our training sessions.” If we can come to an agreement, then we will sign him.
“He’s a pacey guy, good 1v1, and he can get hold of the ball, good in possession, but also a good crosser of the ball: Quite a tricky wing.’’
Here is a video of Sam during his Leeds tenure, so you can judge for yourself.
Since dealing longtime right midfielder Dane Richards to Vancouver, the Red Bulls have had a glaring need for speed and lack of width, even if they didn’t initially realize it themselves. That’s why they had Quincy Amerikwa in on trial, and later Johann Smith; but it’s Sam that eventually got the nod.
Sam played 90 minutes in a reserve game against D.C. yesterday, and apparently showed enough in a week of practice and that loss against United to earn a deal.
For his part, Sam declined comment until the deal is finalized. But he's right-footed, but can play on either wing, and that versatility makes him valuable.
“In this league, it’s very difficult just to buy specialists. You need versatile players because of the salary cap,’’ said Backe. “Hopefully he can play two or three different positions.’’
Sam has good speed, if not quite up to Richards’ blazing standard. But he’s a solid crosser, and has good vision on the field and an acute mind for the game.
“To be playing your whole career in England, and you’re playing in decent teams like Leeds United, then you have a good understanding of the game,'' said Backe. "You can see in possession that his vision is good.’’
He’s a veteran of four different levels of English football, coming up with Charlton and getting a cup of coffee at the Premier League level before emerging with them in the Championship. Sam signed with Leeds in July 2010; and after a loan stint at Notts County – scoring five times in just ten games – he was in training camp with Portsmouth before a better offer came along: The Red Bulls.
Sam had been mulling multiple offers back in England, but happened to be having dinner with Rodgers when his agent told him about the Red Bulls’ interest. Rodgers played just one year in New York, but scored nine goals and became a fan favorite, thoroughly enjoying everything the city has to offer.
“When I spoke to Luke, he said he would come back here for free. So you can imagine how he was talking about it, massive praise. He was probably a key influential person in me coming,’’ Sam said last week. “When I spoke to him, he convinced me. He loved it out here. He said the club is a great experience and he had a great time here altogether, and he wishes he could come back.’’