For Long, the honor is further acclaim for a special season that has seen him start in the MLS All-Star game, win his first US Men’s National Team cap, win MLS Defender of the Year, and, of course, win the 2018 Supporters’ Shield as part of a Red Bulls squad that posted the highest regular-season points total in MLS history (71 points from 34 games).
For Lawrence, a seasoned Jamaica international who has been to two Gold Cup finals and won two Supporters’ Shields since joining RBNY in 2015, this is the first time he has been formally recognized as an elite player by MLS.
Collectively, Lawrence and Long contributed over 60 appearances and more than 5,000 minutes in the league with RBNY this season. The team’s defense allowed just 33 goals in 34 regular-season games - the lowest Goals Against total in MLS 2018.
Both players are deserving of Best XI honors - overdue in Lawrence’s case - but the selection of two RBNY defenders to a team that only allocated three slots to defenders is perhaps testament to just how good the Red Bulls’ back line has been this season.
As Lawrence acknowledged in comments to RBNY’s communications team, all four of the team’s regular starting defenders might reasonably have been selected to this year’s MLS Best XI:
“Amir [Murillo] has been good. Tim [Parker] has been great. Aaron [Long] has been amazing. When you play with guys like these that don’t really give anything away, it’s easier...two of them are USA national team, Amir just came from the World Cup - these guys just complement each other. These guys love winning, but they also love to keep a shutout. So I feel like Aaron deserved that, Amir probably deserved to be in the Best XI, a lot of talk about Tim too - so for me to get it is just an honor.”
It’s an honor and a privilege watching you all at work.
Congrats, Kemar and Aaron!