The Red Bulls are currently training in Florida. Florida is home to the city with the highest rate of lightning strikes per capita (Clearwater), the city with the highest average temperature (Key West), and the oldest European settlement in North America (Saint Augustine). Isn't Florida awesome?
These are the first five trialists this site profiled.
Let's meet some more trialists.
Sanchez is a striker from the Academy U-18 team. He's from Peru and currently lives in Ossining, N.Y. He scores goals in bunches and has been earning rave reviews from his coaches.
"Juan, a striker, is new to our academy this year, and we've been very happy with his performance," said Red Bulls U-18 Paul O'Donnell. " He has a great work rate, and he's had a great start to the season. It's nice to see him get rewarded."
Sanchez has been called into the U.S. U-18 National Team and scored 9 goals in 12 games for the Red Bull U-18s.
Once upon a time the Long Island native was considered the next great American striker. After a standout youth and college career at Albertson Soccer Club and Duke University filled with plenty of accolades, he turned down a Generation Adidas deal from MLS (drafted by Toronto) and moved to Leeds United. Unfortunately, Grella was unable to break through in Europe and bounced from club to club. Along with Leeds, he spent time with Carlisle United, Swindon Town, Brentford, Bury, Scunthorpe United, and Viborg, before signing with the Carolina RailHawks (NASL) in 2014.
This is Grella's third trial for the Red Bulls, but he's reportedly doing much better this time scoring beautiful goals during practice and scrimmages. He's also been on trial with the Cosmos and NYCFC in the last year.
Ward was drafted by the MetroStars with the 12th pick in 2005 and was traded to Columbus after his rookie season. He's been without a club since 2012 after a serious hamstring injury with the San Jose Earthquakes. According to Jesse Marsch, "It's going to take him a while to adjust to what the speed of the game is like and what the mentality of being back in this environment is like every day... I'm hopeful that it can turn out to be something what he looked like a few years back."
Ward, who can play in both the defense and the midfield, turns 28 this month. He played with multiple U.S. Youth National Teams.
McLaws, from Oklahoma, played his college ball for Coastal Carolina. The defender/midfielder was drafted in the third round with the 59th pick. McLaws was twice named Big South Defensive Player of the Year and played 89 matches in four years fro the Chanticleers. He played his summer ball for USL Premier Development League club Ocean City Nor'easters.
Sanchez, a midfielder from Clemson, was drafted by the Red Bulls with the 79th pick in the fourth round. The Philadelphia native began his college career at Louisville before transferring to Clemson. His senior year, he tallied 3 goals and 6 assists. He played his summer ball with Reading United A.C. in the PDL.
Obekop's (or "Robocop" if the fan base wants) contract option was not exercised at the end of the 2014 season, however he remains in the fold and is on trial in Florida. In two years, he has made 10 total appearances for the club. The young midfielder/forward saw plenty of time with the reserve squad and could be a signing for the USL Pro squad. He joined the Red Bulls from Renaissance FC in the MTN Elite One (the top flight in Cameroon). Obekop, 20, has experience with the Cameroon U-17 and U-20 squads.
Another player whose option was declined by the team, the 6'1" Ugandan spent 2014 as the since departed Jamison Olave's center back partner. However, as reported by Dave Martinez of Empire of Soccer, the Red Bulls are attempting to bring Sekagya back as a player-coach.
While listed as a trialist in camp, team sources tell us the Red Bulls have been reluctant to use that label on Sekagya. While technically correct, New York are motivated to find a place within the team for the Ugandan defender "that honors his role as a veteran and leader" instead of having to prove his way into the lineup."
The team recently added Andrew Jean-Baptiste and Ronald Zubar, so it remains to be seen what role they see for him on the field.
Which of these trialists interest you? Who was your favorite character in the Departed?