Karl Ouimette is unlikely to look back on 2016 as a highlight of his pro soccer career. The 24-year-old was handed an unexpected opportunity for regular starts for the New York Red Bulls this year when a succession of injuries blighted the first team's defensive corps in the opening weeks of the MLS regular season. Ouimette appeared in seven of RBNY's first eight league games, starting in six of them.
Unfortunately, his run as a starter coincided with the disastrous run of form that threatened to torpedo the Red Bulls' 2016 before it had really begun. Ouimette made his last appearance of the year for RBNY on April 24, in the 3-2 home win over Orlando that signaled the end of the team's horrendous season-opening slump. But no one knew it was the end of the slump at the time. On April 29, RBNY head coach Jesse Marsch opted to start Ronald Zubar and Chris Duvall in the center of defense, and was rewarded with a 4-0 win over FC Dallas. That was also the day Aurelien Collin's signing was announced, and the veteran center back made his first start for RBNY on May 6 (against the team he had just left, Orlando).
Ouimette was loaned down to NYRB II for a run out against Pittsburgh Riverhounds on May 7. He finished that match as perhaps the most famous fourth-string CB in RBNY history, the victim of a shocking on-field assault by a blind-with-rage Romeo Parkes.
There was still a long season ahead. It was clear the Red Bulls didn't think Ouimette was the immediate answer to their defensive issues, but perhaps he would play a little USL with NYRB II and wait for the chance for more first-minutes in CONCACAF Champions League or US Open Cup.
Instead, however, once Ouimette had recovered from the career-threatening kick to the back he suffered in his only appearance of the season for the II team, the player was sent on a season-long loan to NASL's Jacksonville Armada.
Under the guidance of former Metrostar and Red Bull Tony Meola, Ouimette made six appearances (five starts) for the Armada. But Meola was fired on August 7, since when Ouimette has had one minute of competitive playing time for Jacksonville.
The Armada has played 14 league games since Meola left the club, and Ouimette has made one garbage-time appearance in that stretch. Jacksonville closed out a forgettable season with a 3-2 win over Tampa Bay Rowdies on October 30, securing an 11th-place finish in the 12-team NASL table for the Fall Season. Ouimette's loan is presumably over, but he is not on RBNY's roster for the post-season. Indeed, he is not on RBNY's official roster at all at the moment, per the club's website (which isn't the most reliable source, since Ouimette's fellow exile - Anatole Abang - is still listed; but it's something).
Ouimette has been getting regular call-ups and occasional appearances for his national team, Canada, throughout the season. But his club career is stalled. Not irretrievably, and it is not RBNY's fault that Jacksonville changed coaches and stopped giving Ouimette time. But the objective of his loan to NASL was surely that he play more than a minute in the last three months. (What's that? Yes, the objective of his loan was most likely to clear space for new signings, but it wouldn't have hurt RBNY if Ouimette had also made a name for himself in NASL.)
Ouimette's loan to Jacksonville looks like a bust. It's primary purpose was doubtless to allow for summer acquisitions, and in that sense it was perhaps a success. But the player's place on the roster has effectively been taken by NYRB II's Aaron Long (of similar age and on-field skill set), and he does not appear to have a future at RBNY.
Incidentally, Romeo Parkes was banned from all soccer by FIFA for "the cheap shot heard round the world". He has served that suspension and can play professionally again. The Jamaican forward has returned to Isidro Metapan in El Salvador, where he played prior to his ill-fated stint with Pittsburgh Riverhounds. In his first competitive game since May 7, Parkes scored to help Metapan to a 2-0 league win.