Stefano Bonomo, the New York Red Bulls' second pick of the MLS SuperDraft (39th overall) and presumptive member of an elite tier of frequent flyers, has joined NYRB II per a report from Big Apple Soccer's Kristian Dyer - and subsequently confirmed by the club.
This news marks the end of a six-and-half-month journey through some of
world European football's least-heralded backwaters: Miedz Legnica in Poland; an alleged pit-stop in Sheffield, England; a trial with SPAL in Italy; an attempt to squeeze into the squad of Italian phoenix club Biancoscudati Padova.
But Jesse Marsch is a patient man. Back in March, he said he would keep the door open for his prodigal draft pick - and he has proved true to his word. Bonomo popped up in RBNY training a couple of weeks ago, and now he will bolster NYRB II's push to consolidate a place in the USL playoffs.
NYRB II currently sits fifth in the USL's Eastern Conference standings, three points clear of the cut-off for the post-season (and 15 points behind Conference-leading Rochester Rhinos). The team has nine games remaining in its regular season schedule.
Bonomo has described himself as preferring to play as a second-striker, behind the front man. He is listed as 6' 2", but has said he likes to play with the ball at his feet. He may slot into a hold-up role for NYRB II, or could be tasked with leading the line - he has played as a center forward: indeed, he scored more goals than he set up during his college career at the University of California.
He is 22 (he will turn 23 in January 2016). Bonomo first caught Jesse Marsch's eye at a USA U-18 training camp in 2011, when Marsch was part of Bob Bradley's USMNT coaching team. Their reunion has been a long time coming.
We should get the opportunity to see why RBNY's head coach has patiently waited for Bonomo to run out of options abroad in the very near future: NYRB II plays six times in August, including a stretch of four games in 10 days from August 2 (vs. St. Louis FC) to August 12 (vs. Charlotte Independence).
Welcome to RBNY, Stefano. We've been waiting for you.