A lot can be said about Rodney Redes. He was the first signing in Austin FC history. He has a fascinating Wikipedia page. He has the support of his manager and seems to be a welcome presence in the locker room. But what cannot be said is that he has proven himself to be an MLS-caliber player.
Although perhaps I’m being too harsh. Redes may in fact be a perfectly capable young MLS prospect if given the proper system, the proper teammates, and the proper amount of playing time. Unfortunately, none of that potential has materialized in an Austin uniform. While his topline numbers (0 goals and 1 assist in 27 appearances) are pretty dire, they don’t even begin to tell the story of how ghastly he has been every time he’s taken the pitch.
I’ve talked a bit before about the concept of goals added above average, but only three players in all of MLS had a worse g+ per 90 minutes than Rodney Redes in 2021. He was below average in every statistical category except receiving passes which, while certainly a valuable skill, was completely negated by his ineffectiveness with the ball at his feet.
He has been very, very bad at passing and shooting. His non-penalty expected goals plus expected assists is in the 14th percentile of all MLS wingers per fbref. His passes per game, pass completion percentage, shots taken, and shot-creating actions are all below the 25th percentile. Redes has had exactly six successful dribbles in twenty-seven appearances, or roughly what Cecilio Dominguez achieves in a month. He has only had two (two!) passes that have advanced the ball more than ten yards upfield. He has completed five passes into the penalty area in his entire MLS career.
But it’s not just that Rodney Redes has been a bad player in his brief time in this country. There are plenty of good teams who, thanks to the league’s rules of roster construction, are forced to give several hundred minutes to below-average players. No, what is especially damning is that whenever Redes is on the field, bad things happen and they happen very frequently.
In the 2,749 minutes that Austin FC has played without Redes in the outfield, the team goal differential is +5. That’s the performance of a squad that would challenge for a playoff spot in the Western Conference most years. However, in the 761 minutes in which Redes played, the goal differential is -18. In his last 25 appearances, Austin has only scored one goal with him on the pitch. He has played 21.6% of the available minutes since the start of 2021, and he has been on the field for 34.4% of the goals scored against the team. If he had been on the field for every minute of every game, and if his goal differential remained the same, Austin would have been outscored 97-14.
So what is to be done with Rodney Redes? He’s still only 22, and his transfer represented a significant financial investment for the club. If Austin FC’s MLS NEXT Pro team was operating this season, he would almost certainly be starting for them every week. But he’s with the senior team now, and absent a midseason loan he will be here to stay for the rest of 2022. I understand that young players need playing time in order to develop, but the early results this season have been positive enough to believe that the playoffs are a real possibility for Austin. However, in a stacked Western Conference, where points cannot be wasted and obvious handicaps must be minimized, all available evidence suggests that Austin FC becomes a worse team every time he steps on the field. While depriving him of minutes may endanger his professional future, allowing him to be a consistent detriment would endanger the team’s present. Barring the type of terrible injury luck that plagued Austin early last season, I can see no argument for Redes stepping on the field again.