After a brief flurry of activity that saw three players drafted, a captain traded, a head coach forced to hold a press conference to announce he was still head coach, and a sporting director called away to something urgent the rumor mill believes is his own separation from the club (and RBNY says is not), the New York Red Bulls have returned to their favorite posture of the break between the 2016 and 2017 MLS seasons: being very quiet.
But, shy as RBNY might be about admitting it, there is work being done at the club. The latest evidence of such came attached to a birthday greeting to goalkeeper Evan Louro.
Happy birthday to @NewYorkRedBulls @michigan@evanlouro123 ! First bday as a pro with many more to come.— Global Premier Mgmt (@GlobalPremMgmt) January 19, 2017
That Tweet represents the second time this off-season that a goalkeeper's signing with RBNY has, effectively, been announced by a source other than the club. On January 3, agency Remington Ellis declared its client, Rafael Diaz, had signed with the Red Bulls. Now Louro's representatives at the negotiating table, Global Premier Management, have wished him well for his 21st and his rookie year as a pro with RBNY.
While there is no reason to doubt either agency, the lack of comment from the club implies something is preventing RBNY from firing off a celebratory press release. Once A Metro has learned both deals are close to being definitively done, so the absence of confirmation from RBNY is not expected to persist for much longer. Diaz and Louro will be Red Bulls in 2017.
Louro is a Red Bulls Academy product and has maintained connection with the club since pursuing a college career with Michigan. He is fondly remember by NPSL's Detroit City FC.
Happy birthday, @evanlouro123! #DCTID pic.twitter.com/IwoHYtvCeh— Detroit City FC (@DetroitCityFC) January 19, 2017
In May, the 'keeper was named Player of the Round by TheCup,us for his work in helping DCFC to a clean sheet and a penalty-shootout victory over Michigan Bucks (and fellow RBNY Academy grad, Adam Najem) in the first round of the 2016 US Open Cup. Louro then bid his NPSL club goodbye, and summered with RBNY's U-23 team in PDL.
He is eligible for a Homegrown Player contract with RBNY, and has long been rumored to be targeted for a HGP deal by the club for the coming season. So the expectation is Louro will be announced as a Homegrown player on the first-team MLS roster. That expectation does not, however, combine well with the competing notion that Rafa Diaz has signed with the MLS side of the Red Bulls' house. Something doesn't quite add up there.
Both 'keepers might reasonably be considered to be looking at a season with NYRB II in USL, since RBNY has a clear starter - Luis Robles - and Ryan Meara is currently the presumptive back-up at the first-team level. Three 'keepers on a roster in MLS is very much the standard amount. Four seems like an unnecessary waste of a roster spot.
But we will have to wait until official announcements are made and the MLS and USL rosters are finalized to understand exactly how RBNY intends to balance the career ambitions and needs of four goalkeepers with the club's own need to build a first-team squad that has depth at every position while remaining compliant with the arcane and changeable roster rules of MLS.
But at least one of RBNY's off-season necessities has been addressed. The club basically requires four pro 'keepers to keep its MLS and USL teams adequately staffed at the position. At the end of the 2016 season, the club saw Ryan Meara's contract expire, Kyle Reynish slip into free agency (again), and Rafael Diaz's USL deal reached its end. Briefly, the team had just one 'keeper - Luis Robles - under contract. In mid-December, Meara was re-signed. Diaz's re-signing made it three, now Louro is the fourth. The Red Bulls' have all the 'keepers they need for 2017.