The New York Red Bulls have already lost one of their two Designated Players for next season, and now the MLS club could be set to see the other depart.
With captain Thierry Henry confirming on Monday that he will not return for the 2015 season following the team’s MLS Cup Playoffs elimination, attention now turns to the future of Tim Cahill.
The Australian has endured a testing campaign in which he struggled with injuries during the first-half of 2014, as well as the demands of juggling international football with his club commitments, scoring just twice in 23 regular-season appearances.
The surprise emergence of league-leading scorer Bradley Wright-Phillips, combined with the flourishing central midfielder partnership of Dax McCarty and Eric Alexander, even lead to him being benched during the latter stages of the season, amid speculation of a serious falling out with management.
Wright-Phillips’ suspension-triggering booking in the home leg of the Eastern Conference Championship against the New England Revolution, however, saw the Everton legend return to the line-up to start up front for Saturday’s decider at Foxborough, where he scored the 26th-minute opener to set himself up for a hero’s comeback.
A close-range miss in the second-half would contribute towards a 2-2 draw in a 4-3 aggregate defeat, though, with the Socceroos star subsequently remaining coy on his future during post-match interviews.
“Who knows, mate,” he told empireofsoccer.com about his future plans. “You know. I’m going to have a little break with the kids. Chill out. I’m going to play in Asia Cup and try and do well for my country.
“I’ll talk with the club afterwards but I’ve enjoyed it. It’s been an unbelievable two and a half years. It’s been amazing but main thing for me is to concentrate on the Asia Cup now.
“You know, there’s no more Red Bulls missing out on Tim Cahill going international duty now,” he continued. “We’ve done well, we win together, we lose together and I’ve got an Asia Cup now. I’ll have a few days off and then keep myself ticking over, but, I’m excited.”
Arriving from Everton in the summer of 2012, Cahill got over a slow start to life in the States to put together an MVP-calibre campaign in his first full season, scoring 11 goals in 27 regular-season games to help the club claim the 2013 Supporters’ Shield – their first ever major piece of silverware.
He proved this past summer at the World Cup that he can still play at the highest level but, after outshining captain Henry last season, one wonders whether his recent displays are the sign of a steady decline.
Where he would go if he does indeed leave Red Bull Arena remains to be seen, with a move to A-League side Melbourne City mooted for several months, but his showing in Brazil five months ago might mean that he has more potential suitors than anticipated.