Back in the summer of 2015, a young center back turned up in New York Red Bulls' training. At the end of his trial, it was reported that RBNY intended to stay in touch with the schoolboy defender. And the Red Bulls have clearly made good on that promise: Hassan Ndam is the latest RBNY signing for the 2017 MLS season.
A recent graduate of the Montverde Academy, a Florida-based youth soccer powerhouse, Ndam lands at RBNY via the preferred MLS route for young Cameroonian talent: Rainbow FC Bamenda. Whatever questions there might be about Rainbow's talent pipeline, there should be no questioning the talent. In recent years, RBNY alone has welcomed three promising young players - Ambroise Oyongo, Marius Obekop, and Anatole Abang - whose transfers were facilitated in some way by Rainbow. Ndam is now the fourth to try his luck with the Red Bulls.
None of the preceding three Rainbow-enabled Cameroonian signings really worked out for RBNY, in any long-term sense. Oyongo made a very encouraging contribution to the Red Bulls' 2014 season, but was a trade chip in the club's move to secure Sacha Kljestan and Felipe Martins at the beginning of 2015. Oyongo is a Montreal Impact player now, and currently an important part of Cameroon's squad at the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations.
Obekop was released after a solid season with NYRB II in 2015. Anatole Abang is currently on loan to Hobro IK in Denmark, and seems to be actively seeking a new team before that loan expires.
Ndam will hope for a more successful stint at RBNY than his fellow Rainbow alums.
The 18-year-old plays in a position of need in the current Red Bulls' squad: he is a center back, and the roster did look to be in need of another center back. He is a Cameroon youth international, though he has been playing most of his soccer for a (very, very good) high school in Florida in recent years. He looks, therefore, like one for future, presumably destined for a lot of time with NYRB II in 2017.
But Ndam is on the MLS roster and has joined the Red Bulls preseason training camp in Arizona. He will get his chance to audition for first-team minutes, like every other player in the camp at the moment.