Until MLS says otherwise, there is little choice but to assume there will be a 2015 regular season starting as currently scheduled - which is March 8 in Kansas City for the New York Red Bulls.
And that means it is preview time!
Once A Metro is kicking off its 2015 season previews with the first of a series of reviews of squad depth at each of the major positions on the field: goalkeeper, defense, midfield and forward. Up first, the RBNY goalkeepers.
2014 Stats (all competitions): 39 appearances; 3510 minutes; 57 Goals Allowed; 1.46 Goals Against Average; 7 shutouts
This could the year Robles takes a step toward the status of all-time RBNY legend. He is third on the club's goalkeeping all-time appearances list, behind only Tim Howard and Tony Meola. He's second on the all-time shutouts list, 10 behind Meola's club record (30). And he's second to Meola in all-time shutouts in the league: in that category, his record (19) is close enough to Meola's (25) that he might take top spot this season.
Robles has been the team's regular starting 'keeper pretty much since he took over from an injured Bill Gaudette toward the end of 2012. Since then, he's played every minute of two regular seasons and three playoff campaigns. Indeed, no 'keeper has made more playoff appearances for this team than Robles.
The hope for this season is that he proves every bit as dependable as he has been the last two years, keeps racking up the starts in the league, and adds a substantial number of playoff games to his career statistics.
His reputation is unlikely to reach the level of either Howard or Meola, both national team regulars. But if Robles puts in another solid year between the sticks for RBNY, it may shortly be time to consider whether his contributions for this club at least match, possibly even exceed, those of his more vaunted predecessors.
2014 Stats:No competitive appearances for RBNY
Career MLS regular season stats: 9 appearances; 775 minutes; 7 Goals Allowed; 4 shutouts
We don't know a huge amount about Reynish's abilities, and if this year is going to be a success, it is to be hoped we don't find out. His past - NASL's 2013 Golden Glove winner; back-up to Nick Rimando at Real Salt Lake and Sean Johnson at Chicago Fire - suggests he's a perfectly capable goalkeeper, but for Reynish to get a shot at an extended run with RBNY, it will mean something has gone wrong for Luis Robles. We do not want something to go wrong for Luis Robles.
Absent catastrophe, assume we'll see Reynish in US Open Cup, and maybe as a spot starter if Robles gets a knock or called up for USMNT (and Robles is arguably only a couple of injuries to Klinsmann's favorites away from at least being in the conversation for a national team call).
2014 Stats: No competitive appearances for RBNY
RBNY II may be arriving just in time for Castano. He turns 20 in April and has yet to play a single competitive minute for the first team. And that's OK: there aren't many teenage goalkeepers getting playing time in MLS. But he does need to be playing somewhere.
Unfortunately, one of his more regular sources of competitive play over the last 12 months - the US U-20 Men's National Team - would appear to be closed to him. Castano snubbed Tab Ramos's U-20s at the eleventh hour of their preparations for the CONCACAF U-20 Championship.
Instead, he answered a call from Colombia's U-20 squad. One cannot fault a man for following his heart. Playing for your country is a tremendous privilege; being asked to pick between two countries is an awful choice that very few ever have to make. Castano picked Colombia, as is his prerogative. Unfortunately, training camp with the Colombia U-20s did not result in a call up for CONMEBOL's U-20 World Cup qualifying tournament in January. Castano went from being a player with an unusual number of options to one with none - at least for the moment.
RBNY's decision to sign up Kyle Reynish, an experienced back-up in MLS, suggests the club doesn't see Castano as MLS-ready just yet. But if a team signs an teenage 'keeper, it ought to be taking a long term view. It is assumed Castano is still a prospect the club is interested in developing, either for its own benefit or that of another club in the Red Bulls' system (in 2014, he was on trial with FC Liefering, the feeder team for Papa Red Bull's beloved Salzburg).
So it is assumed Castano will get the chance to continue his development with the USL team. He could be the Baby Bulls' starter out of the gate, or he may be asked to compete for minutes with another prospect or a more experienced player.
Whatever the approach, 2015 should be another year of development for the homegrown prospect. Much like 2014, his target is not so much getting MLS minutes as retaining his place in the squad for another year. The academy produces goalkeepers every year, so Castano's position as the first team's resident work in progress at his position is not unassailable.
Worst case for him is losing his contract to the next up-and-comer from the academy. Par is keeping his contract for 2016, and maybe a full season as the reserve team's starting 'keeper in USL. Best case would be to play his way into Colombia's U-20 squad or (less likely: Landon Donovan can tell you about the degree to which a snubbed national team coach will hold a grudge) his old place in the USA set up, and maybe sneak a few starts for the first team in US Open Cup.
2014 Stats (all competitions): 5 appearances; 450 minutes; 5 Goals Against; 1.00 Goals Against Average; 2 shutouts
Say what? Quite right: he's not on the RBNY roster for 2015. But he is a RBNY player, merely on loan to NYC FC.
It's hard to say what the future holds for Meara at this moment. He seemed to be progressing toward at least a shot at starting for the blue team, but he picked a knee injury in preseason. Not for the first time in his career, he'll start the season in rehab and hope that his return fitness coincides with an opportunity to get on the field.
For RBNY, the decision to loan Meara out was almost essential: he deserved the chance to get his career back on track after a frustrating long-term injury and patiently backing up Luis Robles for 2014. The arrangement with NYC FC is about as good as fans might have hoped for: Meara gets his shot, and RBNY will either get him back or (we assume) trade him for value if his 2015 sees him return to the sort of form he was showing in 2012.