Before their 2017 season gets underway, the New York Red Bulls should enjoy a considerable amount of international recognition. Sacha Kljestan and Dax McCarty are expected to be called into the US Men's National Team's January camp, getting an early opportunity to work their way into head coach Bruce Arena's plans for his second stint in charge of USMNT. Before the USA camp gets underway, RBNY's Derrick Etienne will likely feature in at least some part of Haiti's campaign to keep alive its hopes of qualifying for the 2017 Gold Cup. There is a solid chance that there will RBNY players - or at least Academy-trained prospects - involved in the USA U-17 and U-20 men's national teams' preparations for their respective CONCACAF Championships. And though he may not really be part of the RBNY squad at the moment (or ever again, perhaps), on-loan forward Anatole Abang's connection to the team will doubtless get attention if he makes any significant contribution to Cameroon's performance at the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations.
It is also possible the Red Bulls will add a player or two with existing national team ties, further extending RBNY's international soccer representation. And there is always the possibility of a surprise call-up for one or more of the current squad.
Along the way, inevitably, there will be muttering and grumbling about those call-ups that bring players into conflict with the priorities of the club. For example, if Tyler Adams makes the USA U-20 squad for the U-20 CONCACAF Championship, he could miss both RBNY's CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal matches against Vancouver Whitecaps, and the MLS season opener against Atlanta United. But Adams is currently regarded as the team's fourth-choice defensive midfielder, so fans (and RBNY) may not consider his absence as a threat to the club's CCL chances.
There is one player, unfortunately, who may be destined for an early-season club-vs-country tug of war: Kemar Lawrence is, when fit, a starter for both RBNY and the Jamaica men's national team. The Reggae Boyz have scheduled a friendly in Houston against Honduras for February 16. The Red Bulls are due to play Vancouver in CCL on February 22. The Jamaica match is not being played in a FIFA window for international matches, and the Red Bulls will not therefore be obliged to release Lawrence to his national team. In this case, with CCL looming and Jamaica's international calendar free of competitive games until the summer, it would seem sensible for the (overworked in 2015 and injury-prone in 2016) left back to stay with his club. The Reggae Boyz should probably treat the February friendly the way USMNT treats its January camps: an opportunity to take a look at those players who happen to be available at that time of year. Six days before a CCL quarterfinal, Lawrence should not be regarded as available.
But RBNY has also, in its wisdom, committed itself to playing in the Desert Diamond Cup, an Arizona-based exhibition series that functions as warm-weather warm-ups for many MLS teams. That tournament starts on February 18 and ends on February 25. The Red Bulls' first team should be kept as far away from it as Lawrence should from Jamaica's match against Honduras.
If they don't (which would be extremely surprising and require some gymnastic justification from the front office), then Jamaica would be doing RBNY a favor by summoning Lawrence to Houston to play Honduras - and fans might want the Red Bulls to allow the player to answer the call. At least it would then be certain that one starter against Vancouver would be operating with a little more rest, and a little less travel, than the rest of the squad.
Most likely, RBNY doesn't let Lawrence go to Houston and doesn't have its CCL selection participating in Desert Diamond Cup. But if the club has lost its mind and decided it must have players simultaneously contest a set of friendlies in Arizona and a home-and-away CCL series with Vancouver - root for Kemar Lawrence to get another cap for Jamaica.