Junior Flemmings grew visibly and steadily into a dominant attacking player at the USL level in 2016. Playing for NYRB II, he had become a standout player on a standout team when his season was cut short by injury in September. At the time his injury was announced, New York Red Bulls head coach Jesse Marsch indicated the club had already started looking at Flemmings as a player "we're earmarking for the first team".
In an interview with Jamaican newspaper The Gleaner, Flemmings - a schoolboy soccer star in his home country - said he expects to be trying out for a first team place when he returns to RBNY for preseason:
In the next couple of weeks, I will know what the interest [RBNY] is. So far, it has been very positive with me getting into the first team. It's just for me to go back in these next two to three weeks of preseason and show that I deserve to be in the first team.
Flemmings' NYRB II contract option was picked up for 2017, but that clearly does not prevent the Red Bulls from shuffling him over to the MLS squad if he fits the bill. Fellow II-teamers Vincent Bezecourt and Florian Valot have reportedly been made a similar promise: they too will be in camp with RBNY's first team in the hope of winning a contract upgrade. Flemmings likes his chances of winning a promotion to the first team because "the thing with Red Bulls is they like players with speed, and that's what I bring to the table."
Also of note, it would appear he has ducked a Jamaica call-up. The Reggae Boyz have friendlies scheduled for February 3 (against the USA) and February 16 (against Honduras). Flemmings told The Gleaner he was in contact with the Jamaica men's national team coaches, who want to "bring me into the team as soon as possible". As soon as possible would be February 3, but for the fact the player apparently wants to focus on being fully recovered from the injury that sidelined him last season.
That said, Flemmings thinks "2017 is the breakout year for me" and has set himself the goal of making the grade at MLS and international level.
A big year for any RBNY player tends to mean a big year for RBNY: Once A Metro is rooting for you, Junior.