Connor Lade's first taste of professional action in 2015 was not with the New York Red Bulls MLS side, but with the team's USL side, NYRB II. He was one of 11 players loaned from the senior team to get playing time during the MLS bye week, and his match against Toronto FC II acted as a microcosm of his professional career so far.
Lade joined the Red Bulls before the 2012 season, signing a Homegrown Player contract after playing with the Red Bulls Academy while finish his college career with St. John's University. He was thrust into action under Hans Backe to help fill a need due to injuries that year and showed well, even when he was asked to change position at points during the season, playing both on defense and in the midfield. His play even earned him a call up to the USMNT camp in January 2013.
(First Half: started as a defensive midfielder and then moved back to left back after Collin Heffron picked up an injury. Was playing well.)
2013 had some rough patches for Lade though. He picked up a knock in the USMNT camp that carried into the MLS season. He then didn't see a lot of action (6 total apperances), and people speculated that he was in Mike Petke's doghouse. This seemed to carry over into 2014. He was basically non-existent until he was sent on a loan deal to the New York Cosmos.
(Early Second Half: had a poor clearance that got converted into Toronto 2's only goal.)
During the loan though, he impressed Petke and found his way back into the senior team in an sub capacity, and a starter in the Red Bulls' CONCACAF Champions League matches.
(Second Half: Lade went to ground to stop a goal when Kyle Reynish was out of goal)
Then, this year, with a new coach who thinks highly of him, he hasn't been able to make headway. In the offseason, the Red Bulls acquired Sal Zizzo (Meara loan deal) and Mike Grella (tiralist) to fill the left side of midfield, which Lade can play. Lade didn't even make the matchday 18 against Sporting Kansas City.
After the Sporting match, Roy Miller picked up an injury, and hasn't been seen in either of the Red Bulls' two matches. Instead of letting Lade play as left back (remember how he helped shut out LA in 2012?), the Red Bulls decided to bolster the position.
They went out and signed Kemar Lawrence, who started against D.C. United. Lawrence played well in a 2-0 shutout of D.C. and proved (at least in that match), that he was worth the signing. Lade was in the matchday 18 for the Red Bulls, but wasn't used as Marsch opted to start Sal Zizzo on the left hand side of the midfield. He didn't even have an official position listed in MLS' matchcenter for the match. Dane Richards (who naturally plays on the right) took over for Zizzo in the 65th minute instead if possibly Lade.
International duty called Lawrence away as he was called up by Jamaica for some friendlies before the match against Columbus Crew SC. Instead of giving Lade a change then, they signed Anthony Wallace literally the day before the match started him at Left back. Lade again made the matchday 18 (without an official position) and wasn't used in the midfield either (Zizzo started, Grella came on).
Lade was finally given the opportunity to get some playing time yesterday in New York Red Bulls II's USL match against Toronto FC II, but then suffered an injury and had to come out around the 65th minute. Just another point in the up and down career that has been Connor Lade.
It really is curious to see Lade's career trajectory so far. The organization seems sold on Lade, even Jesse Marsch, they just don't seem to know what to do with him. Hopefully Lade's injury isn't too serious and he can show well this year. The fan base loves him, he's willing to play, and is rated by the staff. How his career has unfolded as it has doesn't make sense, but we can only hope it improves. Despite it all though, Connor Lade remains the consummate teammate and professional, somone any young player should look to emulate.