Devon "Speedy" Williams will kick off the new season with a new team. The central midfielder's contract with New York Red Bulls II expired at the end of the 2016 campaign, and Once A Metro was advised he would be signing with one of the II team's USL Eastern Conference rivals: Louisville City.
Confirmation of Williams' next move comes from no less a source than the man himself: "I will be heading to Louisville," the 24-year-old informed OaM.
Over the course of two seasons with NYRB II, Williams established himself as a calm and effective presence in central midfield. He took readily to the Red Bulls' all-action, constant counter-pressing, and his level of play put him back on the Jamaica national team's radar at the end of 2015.
But the Red Bulls have a traffic jam at the central midfield spots. The first team roster includes one of the most reliable midfield pairing in MLS - club captain Dax McCarty and Felipe Martins. Homegrown prospect Sean Davis has typically been first off the bench when a replacement is needed; fellow RBNY Academy graduate Tyler Adams (and NYRB II regular) is being groomed to be a future starter at the position.
The II team allowed the contracts of two potential MLS-caliber center-mids to expire in 2016 for perhaps no other reason than there simply isn't room for them to grow within the current Red Bulls set up. So Speedy Williams and (probably) Dan Metzger will continue their careers elsewhere.
Williams has landed at one of the better teams in USL. Louisville City has existed for two seasons (like NYRB II), is robustly supported (average crowds of around 7,000), and placed second in the Eastern Conference in both 2015 and 2016 - in both the regular season and playoffs (Lou City has lost the last two USL Eastern Conference finals to the eventual USL Cup winner: Rochester Rhinos in 2015 and NYRB II last season).
It is a compliment to his ability that the ambitious USL club has scooped him up. OaM wishes Williams every success.