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Vanzeir's Nightmare Season Sees an Unfortunate End

photo by Matt Kremkau

by Anthony J. Merced

New York Red Bulls designated player Dante Vanzeir has not had the season he planned and it has ended abruptly due to a back injury on Wednesday according to the team. The Belgian forward joined New York with high hopes of doing what Patryk Klimala couldn't do by becoming the striker that the team has so sorely needed. However, after a campaign that has been marred in controversy and injury, Vanzeir will have to look towards 2024 for redemption.

"He's had a really challenging year," said head coach Troy Lesesne during a team press conference. "I think he's had some different injuries. Obviously, the situation at the beginning of the year didn't get the season off to the right start but he was coming back off of a previous injury. Something like this is such a random situation where he starts the game so well, puts us in a position to take a 1-0 lead and then a random situation in the match where he falls, lands on his back and puts him out for the remainder of the season."

Vanzeir's stats for 2023 are not what he or many anticipated. Just two goals and one assist in 19 games. Despite joining the team in the off-season, Vanzeir only made eight starts in league play. In Leagues Cup he made three appearances, scoring twice. All of this coming off of a season where he had 12 total goals in Belgian First division.

The Red Bulls are now left with few options as a replacement. The injury compounds the loss of Lewis Morgan who was the team's leading scorer in 2022 and has barely played due to injury thus far this campaign. Tom Barlow, Corey Burke and Elias Manoel have been unable to carry the load with the team's leading striker being winger Omir Fernandez.

"It means we need our other 9's to step up," said Lesesne. "We need guys in that position to take the responsibility. We need that in general, more production from the front lines. It creates an opening for someone else to step into that position and do so."

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