The 2016 MLS Cup is over and the off-season is officially underway. The New York Red Bulls refrained from any activity during the first major event of the interlude between the 2016 and 2017 MLS seasons, registering no moves in the half-day trade window on December 11. On December 12, however, in advance of the unveiling of those players who will be made available for the forthcoming Expansion Draft, RBNY released a flurry of information about its current roster.
Meara's contract with the Red Bulls expired at the end of the 2016 season, and his future at the club was uncertain. The team has a clear and established number on 'keeper: MLS Ironman, Luis Robles - the holder of pretty much every RBNY goalkeeping record worth having. For the past couple of seasons, it has also had Kyle Reynish on the books: an experienced 'keeper who was NASL's Golden Glove winner in 2013 and has a well-established history playing back-up in MLS. And the USL team, NYRB II, had Rafa Diaz on its roster: a blameless back-up to Meara in 2016, never once looking out of place or overwhelmed when called on by the II team.
Meara has had a career to date not so much plagued by injury as defined by it: he was a starter in MLS for RBNY as a rookie in 2012, until his season was curtailed by a knock; he was promised an open contest for the starting 'keeper's job in 2013, but he wasn't recovered from 2012 his injury until mid-season; in 2014, he had little choice but to accept a back-up role to now-established starter Robles; a loan to NYCFC in 2015 offered the chance of a fresh start, but that too was derailed by injury. But in 2016, Meara put in a more-or-less full season for NYRB II, and finished the year with a USL regular-season title and Cup to his name.
It appeared he had options and - given Robles unquestioned status as RBNY's starting 'keeper - it seemed likely the best of those options might lie at a team that didn't have one of the reliable and durable players in MLS history as its first-choice goalkeeper.
But perhaps that is not the case. There is still the bulk of the off-season to get through, and maybe all a "multi-year" deal signifies is RBNY has persuaded Meara he's better off making any future move with the leverage of an existing contract. (It also means the Red Bulls would get some value out of any move Meara might be tempted to make.) But the team no longer has Rafa Diaz contracted to NYRB II, and it has revealed Kyle Reynish is also out of contract.
At present, Meara is one of just two 'keepers contracted to RBNY as it heads into a busy 2017 that will include two doses of CONCACAF Champions League, as well as the traditional allocation of MLS games and whatever it can make of its US Open Cup campaign.
The 26-year-old Meara will get starting opportunities with the Red Bulls next season. Whatever promises have been made regarding his career with the club, clearly they were sufficient to persuade him to stay the course with RBNY. For another "couple years" at least: