Remember Stefano Bonomo? He's the New York Red Bulls' runaway 2015 Super Draft pick, who scampered off to Europe to try his luck in
Poland England Italy.
In the process of trying to do nothing more than have a career as a professional soccer player, Bonomo has also become something of a walking definition of irony. RBNY's first draft pick, Leo Stolz, was a highly-rated prospect most MLS clubs were minded to avoid for fear he was planning a move to Europe. Such concerns - and some adept under-the-radar work by Jesse Marsch - allowed Stolz to fall all the way to the 18th pick of the draft, where the Red Bulls scooped him up.
And having landed the guy everyone thought was not going to bother with MLS, essentially because everyone thought he wasn't going to bother with MLS, RBNY drafted Bonomo with its second pick, an unheralded prospect who nonetheless looked a lot like the back-up forward the team clearly needed. As it turned out, Bonomo was a guy who wasn't inclined to bother with MLS. Oops.
Fair's fair: one might argue the Red Bulls burned the rest of the league by cutting a deal with Stolz and sneaking him on to their roster while other clubs assumed he was skipping the draft, so perhaps there is some natural justice in the fact the team got burned by its very next pick in exactly the manner most of the teams in MLS assumed Stolz would burn them.
And then, for no other reason than the universe enjoys a chuckle, Montreal draft pick Cameron Porter scored a crucial goal in CONCACAF Champions League. Porter played for Jesse Marsch at Princeton, and Marsch went out of his way to highlight the player's talent on Twitter in December. Porter was still on the board when RBNY drafted Bonomo. His moment of glory served as a reminder that other forwards with whom the Red Bulls' staff were familiar were available when Bonomo was selected.
For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction; for every Stolz, there is a Bonomo.
Of course, one doesn't imagine RBNY picked Bonomo thinking he was on his way to Europe. And this is true. Marsch confirmed it on the latest episode of Seeing Red: "He wasn't completely straight with us," said the coach.
Marsch also said that his interest in Bonomo dated back to his days with the US Men's National Team - a brief stint as an assistant to Bob Bradley that lasted a little over a year from 2010 to 2011. Bonomo was called up to the US U-18 team in early 2011.
So although Bonomo's selection was surprising to many MLS observers, and has only become more surprising as we learned the player didn't particularly want to join the league and Marsch had been coaching and praising other prospects as recently as a few weeks before draft day, perhaps it makes a little more sense with the knowledge the RBNY coach has been holding a candle for the man he selected with the 39th pick of the draft since 2011.
Indeed, as he indicated on Seeing Red, Marsch may still be holding a candle for Bonomo:
"We'll see what happens with that...There'll always still be opportunities for him to come train with us and see if he could fit...I think he's a talented player, but right now he's not with us. We'll see - I don't think that story is quite finished yet."
Sounds like there are no hard feelings, which makes Bonomo's travels a continuing subject of interest for this site.
As reported previously, Bonomo is currently on trial with SPAL, a team based in Ferrara, Italy. La Nuova Ferrara caught up with him recently and (as translated by the always fallible Google machine) uncovered a few details: Bonomo's trial in Poland was a "strange situation"; he got his chance with SPAL through his father's connections with Fiorentina; he likes to think of himself as a second striker.
SPAL's next match is on March 8 - against Prato. If the club doesn't snap out of its current winless streak (six games and counting), Bonomo's chance of landing a deal may get a little better. We'll keep you posted.