The top-line news, and the reason for the image above, is the return of RBNY's prodigal academy graduate: highly-rated Dan Metzger, who tried his luck in the SuperDraft earlier this year, has been signed to the USL roster.
He isn't expected to play tomorrow, since he is currently training with the US U-23 team in Bosnia, but his place in the team is encouraging. He clearly would have preferred to be on a MLS roster this season, but it is good to see RBNY finally has an option for academy graduates who haven't quite caught the breaks they might need to land a MLS deal but still want to progress their careers as professional soccer players.
The imaginatively named New York Red Bulls II (NYRB II, RBNY II: we'll see what sticks) will kick off the 2015 season on Saturday March 28 at 2 pm in Red Bull Arena. Opposition will be provided by Rochester Rhinos. RBNY will stream the game on its website - but you can also get tickets at the stadium on game day or online. Get tickets.
There are 20 players on the official roster: two goalkeepers, three specialist defenders, 12 midfielders, and three forwards.
Those players are:
Goalkeepers: Santiago Castano (24), Rafael Diaz (74)
Defenders: Tyler Adams, Marcello Borges (39), Michael da Fonte (44)
Midfielders: Franklin Castellanos (77), Alexander Clay (56), Derrick Etienne (36), Colin Heffron (51), Victor Manosalvas (70), Dan Metzger, Marius Obekop (21), Konrad Plewa (41), Manolo Sanchez (17), Leo Stolz (19), James Thomas (33), Kyle Zajec (38)
Forwards: Ethan Lochner (43), Juan Sebastian Sanchez (37), Chris Tsonis (45)
The squad is young, suggesting one ought not to fret too much about the apparent positional imbalance implied by the roster: developing players don't always turn pro at the position they were thought to be most effective when playing academy or even college soccer.
Positions aside, there are three main categories of player on the roster:
USL-contracted players: These are players contracted directly to the USL team. They are professional soccer players, on contracts within the USL system. As such, they might be expected to be the core of the team for the season, since they are contractually bound to NYRB II in a way the other categories of player are not.
There are 11 USL-contracted players at the moment: Diaz, Adams, da Fonte, Castellanos, Clay, Heffron, Manosalvas, Metzger, Plewa, Thomas, Tsonis
MLS-contracted players: Players under contracts with the RBNY MLS team. These players are on RBNY's MLS roster and loaned to the USL team. That loan could be for the entire season, or just for the upcoming game - other MLS "2" teams in USL appear to be enjoy considerable flexibility regarding loans from their MLS parent club, and RBNY has stated it intends to manage loans from the MLS to USL team on a "week-to-week" basis.
There are four MLS-contracted players in the squad at the moment: Castano, Obekop, Manolo Sanchez, Stolz
Academy players: Players who are products of RBNY's academy system. For the most part, these are players committed to NCAA programs in the near future. They can play for the USL team and retain college eligibility, until they are required to report to their respective colleges. There might be some fluidity within this group over the course of the season as well.
There are five academy players in the squad at the moment: Borges, Etienne, Zajec, Lochner, Juan Sebastian Sanchez
USL roster regulations allow for up to 30 players, so RBNY can add to this group without subtracting. Note, however, that only five players can carry the "academy player" designation, so those slots are currently full. Loans from MLS are, as far as we know, without limit, though RBNY does have to put 18 players out for its games as well.
This week's inaugural RBNY II game kicks off a few hours before RBNY plays the Crew in Columbus. There may be weeks when players participate in USL and MLS games, but logistics make that impossible on this occasion.
Once A Metro will be covering RBNY II throughout the season, starting with a deeper dive into this roster announcement. Keep an eye on our NYRB II hub for further coverage of the USL team.