Aaron Long has drawn a lot of praise for his performances for the New York Red Bulls in the initial stages of their 2017 season. After RBNY's 1-0 win over Colorado Rapids in this year's MLS home-opener at Red Bull Arena, Bradley Wright-Phillips said he thought Long had been "probably our best player" over the course of the four games the Red Bulls have played to date this season. Speaking after the same game, Luis Robles said he'd been "a little taken aback" by the RBNY coaching staff's conviction that Long would be a "starter day one" - and he also said "so far, it's gone really well" while going on to praise the 24-year-old's work ethic and commitment to improving his game.
Long has played every minute of all four of the Red Bulls' opening games of 2017: two disappointing outings for the team in CONCACAF Champions League and two encouraging wins in MLS. He appears to be almost visibly growing into a starting role, gathering the confidence one would expect when a player is getting time on the field for a team that is (gradually) getting good results.
And he is doing it wearing the number 33 shirt for the Red Bulls. Per MetroFanatic.com's archive of the team's squad numbers, Long is the fourth player to wear 33 for RBNY. He joins a not insignificant group to have worn that shirt for the club.
Chris Leitch was more frequently a MetroStars #3 than a Red Bulls #33, but he wore the higher number in his second stint at the twice-named club, as he became of only 24 players to log over 100 appearances in all-competitions for the first team and one of 19 to play in over 100 league games for the club. He was part of the starting lineup for RBNY at the 2008 MLS Cup final.
Carl Robinson didn't play much for RBNY during a two-season spell with the club, but in that time (2010-11) he made a start on the coaching career that would eventually see him rise to his current position as head coach of the Vancouver Whitecaps - and he guided his team to victory over RBNY in this year's CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals.
Kenny Cooper will forever be one of the Red Bulls' great one-season wonders. He scored 19 goals in all-competitions for RBNY in 2012: still the fifth-best single-season scoring record in the club's history (and it was the third-best until BWP's phenomenal impact on Red Bulls' scoring records).
Long will chart his own path at RBNY, but he's picked the number of a small but memorable group of contributors to the club's history.