Not a lot of news this week, with college soccer in preseason and academy soccer just ending, but the roundup shall continue.
Brandon Allen named USL Player of the Week
A three-goal performance from Brandon Allen led New York Red Bulls II to a dominant 4-2 win north of the border against Montreal FC. As it stands, New York is four points out of first place in the USL, with two games in hand, while also leading the league in points-per-game at 2.2.
Allen's strong play resulted in a hat-trick, USL Team of the Week, and Player of the Week honors. As it stands, Allen is New York's leading goalscorer with eight, while also sitting at fifth in the league overall. Brandon Allen has always been a streaky scorer, but it is these types of displays that allow the promise and quality he possesses to shine through. The quality that so excited fans five years ago when it first appeared is still there, it just needs to find some consistency.
What are New York's in-house options to replace Gideon Baah?
As the door to Gideon Baah's season closes due to a broken tibia, the door opens for New York Red Bulls II's defensive corps to step up. NYRBII has the stingiest defense in the USL, averaging 0.625 goals against per game, a far cry from the team's makeshift defence of last season. Gone are solid players in Collin Heffron, Mike Da Fonte, and Bolu Akinyode, but in their have stepped in Aaron Long, Zach Carroll, Tim Schmoll, and others, all of whom have done admirably. With the ability to sign NYRBII players on short term deals as well as full MLS contracts, the New York Red Bulls have plenty of options to shore up their defense.
Marsch: "We've got Damien back in the mix, guys need to be ready to fill in." Notes that USL players could be called upon. #RBNY— Eric Giacometti (@Eric_Giacometti) July 11, 2016
Despite his versatility and solid centerback player last year, it's unlikely Konrad Plewa, the team's all-time minutes leader, will get the call in Baah's absence, as he's played mostly fullback season. For similar positional reasons, David Najem and Noah Powder probably won't be seeing time with the first team in this case. However, that leaves four solid centerback options for a potential first team roster slot. After possessing no natural centerbacks last season, NYRBII has stockpiled a number of solid central defenders. Pre-season first team trialist Cheikh M'baye hasn't seen too much of the field this season and is the youngest of the group, so it is safe to assume he will be staying with II for the time being.
Who could come up to the first team?
Zach Carroll- New York's second-round draft pick spent a few months with the first team this year, but did not make an appearance before being cut to make room on the roster for Aurelien Collin. He has played the most of anyone on NYRBII at central defense, logging 1039 minutes exclusively at centerback. However, he's still a work in progress. While the 22 year-old may well make a fine MLS centerback as soon as next year, the holes in his game which prevented him from stepping up during New York's centerback crisis earlier this year still remain. He could work in a pinch, but he'd be better served staying the USL.
Tim Schmoll- The 6'6" Swiss giant arrived at NYRBII from Harvard after playing for New York's U23 team last summer. On II he's been solid if unexceptional. Often the third choice centerback, Schmoll has made numerous appearances from the bench this season, logging 634 minutes in 12 appearances for the team. Despite his size, Schmoll is neither gangly or nor sloppy on the ball, yet, he does not quite benefit from his enormous size as much as one would hope. Physically he's imposing, on the ball he's strong, but Schmoll still needs some work in the tackle and in positioning before he is MLS ready.
Aaron Long- Long, a veteran on NYRBII at 23 years-old, has served the USL squad in a number of positions this year. He has played at leftback, rightback, centerback, and had brief cameos at defensive midfield, and he has impressed in just about every position. Most utilized at fullback this year, it would take Long a little bit of time to be fully ready at centerback for the MLS squad, but he is the most impressive defender on NYRBII at the moment. His fullback play has shown he is strong and comfortable with the ball at his feet. Additionally, he's positionally adept, never seeming to be lost despite playing all across the backline. Though not perfect, his defensive skills have shown to be top of the line during USL play and as it stands Long is the keystone in NYRBII's league-best defense. Jesse Marsch was clearly impressed with Long in pre-season, and despite not making the first team out of camp, it appears it could well be time for the California native to make his MLS bow.
While New York may well look to reinforce from outside the organization, they could do a whole lot worse than promoting from within and giving Long, Carroll, or Schmoll their chance at MLS play.