The Karl Ouimette Situation
For those who missed it, Karl Ouimette was involved in a little bit of a situation in a game two weekend ago against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds. The good news coming out of all of this is that Ouimette is okay . He is battered and bruised but not broken. By the time his suspension is over, he should be ready to play. Oh, did I forget to mention that? Karl Ouimette has been suspended for USL play for three games for violent conduct involved in his red card Saturday evening. The USL specified that the suspension would take place over NYRBII's games on May 14th, 21st, and 28th so Ouimette will serve his suspension whether or not he is actually healthy enough to play. As for the violent conduct, the incident, not caught on the main camera but seen clearly by the far side Assistant Referee, involved Ouimette and Parkes "punching each other with closed fists - Ouimette initially and Parkes in retaliation." From the sound of it, Ouimette's actions certainly warrant his three-game suspension, but in no way deserved the violent actions that followed.
Junior Flemmings wins RPSL's Junior Player of the Year, potential contract details revealed
Junior Flemmings, NYRBII's young Jamaican forward, has recently honored at the Red Stripe Premier League's award ceremony where he won Junior Player of the Year. Prior to moving to NYRBII, Flemmings lit up the RSPL with Tivoli Gardens and is considered the greatest Jamaican schoolboy forward in quite some time. So far this season Flemmings has one goal and three assists with NYRBII where he has played mainly right midfield despite his natural tendencies as a forward.
One other thing to note from the article is the Jamaica Gleaner's characterization of Flemmings contract with NYRBII, stating he "is on loan from Tivoli Gardens". This wouldn't be the first time the Red Bulls have brought in young foreign talent on loan without announcing it. Most notably, the Red Bulls had Ambroise Oyongo on loan from Rainbow FC before signing him fully the next offseason, only to trade him to Montreal shortly after sparking off a firestorm. Tivoli Gardens had not responded for comment at the time of publishing.
Scott Thomsen wins an award
Scott Thomsen's still around. Though his trial in the Netherlands appears to have been fruitless, that has not stopped Thomsen from raking in the accolades. Recently, Thomsen collected the Stanley Lerner Memorial Award, UVA men's soccer's career achievement award of sorts. Past recipients include Eric Bird and Chris Tierney.
Adam Najem on the Michigan Bucks
Adam Najem has been found. The most exciting midfielder in college soccer has had a crazy winter. He left school to find a professional club in Europe only to not make the cut after a trial and now looks to be returning to Akron for his senior season. One place he has been notably absent though was the New York Red Bulls U23 roster. Instead, Najem looks to be playing in the PDL with the Michigan Bucks. Najem was originally signed to play with the Bucks last summer before going to Brazil with Akron, getting injured, then appearing on New York's U23 roster half way through the summer. Has New York lost another top academy prospect to dreams of European grandeur and internal politics? After all, Najem was offered a homegrown deal this winter but turned it down in hopes of an international alternative. Apparently not.
According to the Oakland Press, Najem will be leaving the Bucks at some point this summer to train with an MLS club over the course of the summer. Though the club remains unnamed, the Red Bulls would be a solid guess. Such a move would allow Najem to maintain his homegrown eligibility despite not playing with U23's prior him entering his senior season in college.
Other academy players to show up on other PDL teams include Erik Sa with the Lehigh Valley Sonic United and Sam Carter, who is on the Westchester Flames roster.
Allen cooled off
Homegrown striker and Hermann trophy finalist Brandon Allen started off the season red hot in the USL. Allen scored three goals in his first three professional games and there were even calls for him to get a shot with the first team as Bradley Wright-Phillips got out off the blocks exceptionally slowly. Since then it has been a bit of reversal of fortunes. BWP is now tied for the team lead in goals with three while Allen has been held off the scoresheet for the last five games. Not much has changed in the last five games for Allen. His play has been of a relatively similar level, but the ball has not been going in. For a pure poacher like Allen it is a game of inches, with that small distance being the difference between a great game and a forgettable performance. The holes in Allen's game remain, but so do his strengths. His role is a naturally streaky one, but for now, it is fair to say he is certainly cold.
The Bonomo experiment ended?
Two weeks ago Stefano Bonomo entered NYRBII's game as a centerback, replacing the recovering Gideon Baah. Instead of the substitution resulting in a wide-ranging tactical switch with numerous players moving around the field, the 23 year-old striker simply slotted in at centerback for the second half of the match. After the game, head coach John Wolyniec confirmed that the team was looking to experiment with a positional change, which would see Bonomo shifting from a forward to a centerback. This was a premeditated move that had apparently taken place in training as well.
And now the experiment seems to be over. Since that one centerback appearance, Bonomo has come off the bench twice for NYRBII, both times as a forward. In both of these substitute appearances, Bonomo has made an impact, scoring in each game, showing he is still a forward at heart, despite a little experimentation.
The Zach Carroll situation
A few weeks ago Zach Carroll was released from his MLS contract by the New York Red Bulls. Since then, however, he has stayed very close to the team. BigAppleSoccer's Kristian Dyer has since reported Carroll was going through the waiver process, but the team hopes to keep with the club, potentially signing with NYRBII if he's not picked up.
As of Monday, Carroll is still training with the team, with a move to NYRBII becoming more and more likely.
I spy with my little eye a Zach Carroll. II bound? Seems likely. https://t.co/hFP1fuucmx— Sean Davis Fanclub (@Once_A_Metro) May 16, 2016
Another addition to the PDL roster
The Red Bulls PDL U23 added a few new faces to its roster earlier this week. Since the last roundup, the U23 team has added a few more players to its roster. This includes USYNT defender Andrew Lombard and academy standout Kevin Politz. See the ICYMI section for Once a Metro's roundup on those additions. However, there is one more addition to report: NYRB U23 has added Janos Löbe to their roster. The 22 year-old freshman just finished up his first season at Fordham after playing in his native Germany with Wuppertaler SV, playing in the fifth division of Germany football. At Fordham he started all 18 games, scoring five goals and adding five assists while playing as both a midfielder and forward.
An Opinion or Two
The New York Red Bulls Academy is falling behind. Long hailed as the epitome of youth development in America, the Red Bulls appear to be falling a step or three behind. In a nation as large as the United States it is impossible to identify and develop all the youth talent available, there is simply too much ground to cover. At this point, an MLS academy is less about developing talent and more of a recruitment game. In that regard New York is lucky. New Jersey and New York is home to a soccer hotbed. Second only maybe California in terms of professional talent to come out of the area, New Jersey has seen Tobin Heath, Carli Lloyd, Christi Rampone, Tab Ramos, Claudio Reyna, Guiseppe Rossi, Tony Meola, and so many more emerge from the Garden State. This has allowed the Red Bulls to become developmental giants in MLS while dominating play at the development academy level.
However, with PDL, TSF, NYCFC, the Cosmos, and the Philadelphia Union encroaching on the Red Bull's talent pool, it is time for the New York Red Bulls to take the next step if they want to stay ahead: residency. Residency allows for players to focus supremely on soccer, while also being a great tool for attracting the best out of area talent for their exemption slots. Make the game less about competing for the best talent in the area and more about developing it within the club. The Red Bulls' training facility, PDL, and USL team are all great tools, but they are still lacking residency, something Philadelphia, Vancouver, and LA all hold high over New York's head. With RSL's huge new academy plans, the Galaxy's residency and unique college agreement, and Atlanta United's ambitious academy plans, it is time for New York to put up or shut up if they want to remain the kings of youth development in America.