New York Red Bulls Academy product, Bolu Akinyode is on the move again. The former NYRB II man spent 2016 with Philadelphia Union's USL team, Bethlehem Steel. Now he has been traded to NASL's North Carolina FC.
NCFC is the team formerly known as the Carolina Railhawks, so Akinyode isn't quite moving a brand new squad. Still, he will spend his third year as a pro soccer player much as he spent the first two: with a club establishing its identity. Akinyode turned pro with NYRB II in 2015, joining the team for its inaugural season. He was released at the end of October 2015, and got scooped up by the Steel for its inaugural year in USL. Now he will part of the first set of players to take the field as North Carolina FC.
Quite the series of firsts for a 22-year-old.
Akinyode may have more special significance for RBNY, however. He might be the first NYRB II player to be sold on for a fee. The official line on his move to NCFC from Bethlehem Steel is "terms of the transaction were not disclosed" - but that does strongly suggest there was a transaction. Looks like Akinyode was traded and is therefore the first NYRB II alum to be traded, albeit not by NYRB II.
The Red Bulls have operated their reserve team as a catch-and-release program for its first two seasons of existence: players are either re-signed at the end of the year or released. But Akinyode's trade is the reminder that there is another way: players who RBNY may think won't make the grade it wants to see on its first team could yet be traded, rather than released, to clubs that do like what they see of the II team's talent.
There is no indication that RBNY needs or even wants to turn NYRB II into a selling club. But Akinyode's transfer from the Steel (i.e the Union) to NCFC is a reminder that there is a market for players outside MLS, and RBNY has a non-MLS team that can participate in that market.
Bolu Akinyode, of course, is not trying to be anyone's case study. He's a young midfielder hoping to develop a long and successful career as a pro soccer player. And Once A Metro wishes him all the best in that endeavor.