It is the season for gift-giving and Aaron Long has not been left out: the rumor mill has gifted a little attention to the MLS Defender of the Year. Fox Deportes’ Mariano Trujillo had floated the idea that Eintracht Frankfurt is among a cluster of European clubs ready to test the New York Red Bulls’ resolve with regard to their highly-rated center-back:
I'm hearing that Eintracht Frankfurt and a few other European teams will be making offers for Aaron Long. #USMNT #MLS— Mariano Trujillo #SuckItUp #SinLlorar (@marianot19) December 24, 2018
Me llegó la información de que Eintracht Frankfurt y algunos otros equipos europeos harán ofertas por
Aaron Long.#USMNT #MLS
Long is perhaps overdue some love from the rumor mill. In the last three seasons he has been named Defender of the Year in USL (in 2016) and MLS (in 2018), and those awards coincided in both cases with him making himself indispensable to a team that set a new single-season points record in its league (NYRB II in 2016; RBNY in 2018). He’s also won USL Cup (2016), made a run to the CONCACAF Champions League semifinals with RBNY in 2018, and set a new Red Bulls club record for single-season appearances (45 in all competitions in 2018). And he’s picked up a couple of caps for USMNT this year along the way.
Long’s career has moved so quickly in recent seasons (he seemed closer to early retirement from soccer than anything else when he signed with NYRB II in 2016) that his contract is laughably modest for a player of his current standing, even by MLS standards: RBNY just picked up the 2019 option on a contract that reportedly paid Long $73,125 in 2018; his center-back partner at the Red Bulls, Tim Parker, just won a new deal said to be worth $2.4 million over three years.
Safe to say that Long, his agent, and his club have noticed the current imbalance in the pay-packets of the two RBNY center-backs. Also fair to assume that an enterprising sporting director or two may have noticed that the humble origins of Long’s career (ignored by the US youth national teams; a second-round pick in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft who didn’t get a game in the league until his fourth season as a pro) mean he’s underpaid and a potential low-risk, high-reward bargain-buy for the right team.
Still, the link to Eintracht Frankfurt specifically isn’t necessarily adding up for several observers:
Aaron long would be the oldest starter on Eintract’s backline and they’re currently sixth in the bundesliga and breezing through the Europa league.— Aaron Bauer (@ABauer_ATR) December 24, 2018
I don’t see it? https://t.co/7d1wRvBARA
I made a few calls on Aaron Long yesterday. There seems to be a big split on him. I’m not doubting the Frankfurt link but I’ve also heard Championship sides such as Nottingham Forest like him. There’s a big gap in the quality of play between those clubs.— MLS Transfers (@MLSTransfers) December 24, 2018
And Bild suggests - in a report that looks like it might have been published before Trujillo’s Tweet - that it is Long who was offered to Eintracht Frankfurt, and the club has already decided it will not be adding to its defense in January.
Incidentally, Eintracht Frankfurt’s current head coach is Adi Hutter - head coach of RB Salzburg for the 2014-15 season - and the team will be training in Florida for its winter break.
Equally incidentally, as noted by OaM’s friend and yours Jake Evans, Mariano Trujillo is a Fox Deportes analyst and former pro player whose career included time with UNAM Pumas, Chivas USA, and El Tri. Claudio Suarez is an El Tri legend who briefly crossed paths with Trujillo at Pumas and Chivas USA, and who is also a Fox Deportes analyst. As it happens, Suarez is also a senior executive at PRO FC, an agency that counts Aaron Long among its clients.