One of the many purposes of NYRB II, the New York Red Bulls' reserve team, is to provide a professional environment for players to adapt to new positions or tactics.
In the team's latest game, head coach John Wolyniec withdrew first team center back Gideon Baah at half-time - an expected move given the fact the player is returning from injury and simply needed some competitive minutes to test the success of his rehab.
Less expected, Wolyniec replaced Baah with Stefano Bonomo - a player conventionally regarded as a forward. Even less expected, Bonomo did not slide up the field as part of some elaborate tactical reconfiguration, but stayed at center back for the duration of the second half.
NYRB II does not have a shortage of central defenders, so this was clearly not a move made out of necessity or desperation. It was as calculated a decision as that which put Baah in the starting lineup for the first half (and perhaps inspired by the same matters that found Baah rehabbing in the reserves: the first team basically ran out of center backs after injury cut down its two starters in the same game).
After the game, Wolyniec confirmed that Bonomo is being considered for a positional switch:
That was his first experience at center back in the game. You know it’s - we’re looking at it and he’s been training there for weeks with the team and we’re just going to see how it is and maybe we continue to do that and maybe we don’t. He has some quality stuff that we need at that position and I’ve seen how quickly he can adjust. So credit to him that he’s committed to it and that he’s willing to take a look at this from a different angle and we’ll see where it goes from there.
This sort of experimentation is what NYRB II is for; as Woly said, some of these experiments will persist, others will be short-lived. For now, simply add "is Bonomo a center back?" to the list of questions the reserves are trying to answer this season.