The New York Red Bulls are in Desert Diamond Cup this year, a tournament arguably more important than the MLS Cup or even the World Cup itself.So while the club had to send some players back to New Jersey for a Wednesday-night showdown with the Vancouver Whitecaps in the CONCACAF Champions League, Jesse Marsch kept some of his best guys to represent the Red Bulls in the DDC.
And by best, I mean unproven.
On Saturday the Red Bulls released their 22-man roster for the Desert Diamond Cup, which will consist of a pair of matches against Sporting KC on Saturday and against Houston Dynamo on Wednesday, followed by a classification game (for final placing) against a to-be-determined opponent.
Goalkeepers: Rafael Diaz, Evan Louro
Defenders: David Abidor, David Najem, Hassan Ndam, Kevin O'Toole, Tim Schmoll
Midfielders: Arun Basuljevic, Vincent Bezecourt, Omir Fernandez, Ethan Kutler, Zeiko Lewis, Duane Muckette, Brett Nason, Bradley Nestor, Zach Ryan, Kazu Shigenobu, Lucas Terci, Andrew Tinari
Forwards: Brandon Allen, Jake Freeman, Florian Valot
The roster includes five players on MLS contracts: Diaz, Louro, Ndam, Basuljevic and Allen. Four players have USL contracts with NYRBII: Najem, Schmoll, Bezecourt, Valot. There are also four RB academy players: O'Toole, Fernandez, Ryan, Shigenobu. And SuperDraft picks Kutler and Lewis. The rest are trialists.
A notable absence from the roster is defender Jordan Scarlett, who the Red Bulls took in the 3rd round of the 2017 MLS SuperDraft. Given the unlikelihood that Scarlett is in the first-team plans when the Red Bulls take on Vancouver, his absence could mean that the team decided to let him go without signing him, but as of writing there hasn't been confirmation on that front.
The number of defenders in the squad seems low, but Ethan Kutler is being tested out at right back in preseason, and there may be similar plans for other players on the roster.
With 17 of these players competing for only a handful of spots on the senior team roster, the Desert Diamond Cup is as much a chance for NYRB II to fill out its squad for the year as it is the chance for RBNY to consider options for the remaining open slots on its MLS roster.