Former Everton midfielder Tim Cahill believes he has plenty to contribute to New York and to Major League Soccer as he prepares for his first outing in a friendly against former English Premier League rivals Tottenham Hotspur on Tuesday at Red Bull Arena.
Australian Cahill, 32, secured his move to America last Friday after the MLS, New York and Everton agreed to a transfer fee in the region of £1m, according to the BBC, to conclude his successful eight-year spell in Merseyside on Thursday.
The Socceroos midfielder said he wrapped up the whirlwind move in short order to help the Red Bulls push toward their goal of lifting MLS Cup for the first time.
"As a footballer, I've achieved a hell of a lot in my career, but I feel this is a big move for me," Cahill said during his introductory press conference on Monday. "I know a lot of people might think otherwise, but I'm 32 years old. I respect MLS. I'm coming here at this age because I'm fit and I'm ready for a new challenge."
New York coach Hans Backe said the club acted quickly to clinch the deal for Cahill when team executives realized he might accept a move to the United States. Other Premier League clubs as well as clubs in Asia were reportedly interested in signing Cahill, but the Red Bulls swooped to make him their third Designated Player.
The move for Cahill fills the Red Bulls' lingering need for attacking impetus in central midfield and provides the perfect platform for an industrious player who should fit well into the physical world of MLS, according to Backe.
"Of course, it's a great, great signing for us," Backe said. "Being European, I've seen him for many, many years at Everton and also Millwall. We get a player who is quite versatile. He can play second striker, he can be a box-to-box central midfielder, and you can be sure he's a guy who will give you 100 percent."
Backe said Cahill is expected to make his first Red Bulls start against Spurs on Tuesday and play 45 minutes alongside recovering ex-Tottenham man Teemu Tainio in central midfield. Cahill has trained little with his new teammates as he tended to visa issues in Canada, but he said he is prepared to kick off his Red Bulls career as the squad prepares for a critical pair of home-and-home matches against surging Houston on Friday.
"I'm from Australia," Cahill said about taking the field against Spurs. "We don't do things in half-measures. We do what we're told. For me, this has been crazy since I've been here. I've been up at four, five and six, flights here and there, fitting training sessions in, sleeping in the afternoons. This is our job. This is something we love doing. I know probably playing tomorrow night might be a bit quick, but at least I'm here now. It might be a bit stupid or whatever, but that's what we do."