Is there a club in USL more committed to emulating the success of the 2016 New York Red Bulls II team than Tampa Bay Rowdies?
The Rowdies finished the 2018 season with three players from the all-conquering 2016 II-team squad on their roster: Stefano Bonomo, Junior Flemmings, and David Najem.
Tampa Bay has since re-upped Najem and released Flemmings.
Really excited to re-sign with the Rowdies! Can’t wait to be back on the field again https://t.co/6UfuRsu15T— David Najem (@davidnajem_) December 4, 2018
Really appreciate the support from you guys https://t.co/AddugFyVMD— Junior”Flemmo”Flemmings (@Flemmo_77) December 5, 2018
A little less RBNY flavor in Florida this season? Nope: the Rowdies have signed Brandon Allen to their squad for USL 2019.
BREAKING: The Rowdies have signed @brandon21allen and @ZachSteinberger for the 2019 USL Championship season! Welcome to the Rowdies!— Tampa Bay Rowdies (@TampaBayRowdies) December 5, 2018
Read more: https://t.co/oMmjy0hlae pic.twitter.com/32SGd7tCm0
In Bonomo and Flemmings, the Rowdies had the second and third all-time top scorers for NYRB II on their roster. With Allen, they now have the II team’s all-time leading goal scorer.
For as long as he was in the Red Bulls system, Allen was a prolific scorer - for his high school, for the RBNY Academy, for Georgetown, and for the II team, for whom he scored 30 goals in 47 appearances in all competitions.
Allen was a star for NYRB II in 2016 as the team won the USL regular-season title with a (since broken by FC Cincinnati) new single-season league points record, and then won the 2016 USL Cup. The II-team’s top scorer that year, Allen picked up USL All-League First Team honors, was the USL Cup Final MVP (he scored a hat-trick in NYRB II’s 5-1 win over Swope Park Rangers), and was named 2016 USL Rookie of the Year.
By the mid-point of the 2017 season, Allen was caught in a familiar situation for many of RBNY’s II-teamers: not a lot left to prove in USL, not a lot of opportunity in the Red Bulls’ MLS squad. He was loaned out to Minnesota United, but didn’t crack the first team there either.
Released by RBNY at the end of 2017, Allen landed with Philadelphia Union’s USL affiliate, Bethlehem Steel, for 2018. But in May, the Steel was persuaded to part with Allen by Nashville SC - a team likely to be subsumed by MLS’ expansion to Nashville in 2020.
You’re never far from former RBNY players in USL. In Nashville, Allen had ex-Red Bulls Kosuke Kimura and Bolu Akinyode for company.
Allen scored eight goals in 22 appearances - added to the two he’d scored for the Steel, that gave him 40 goals in a three-season USL career to date - and was Nashville’s top-scorer for the season, but was released at the end of 2018.
Now he’ll reunite with Najem and Bonomo in Tampa Bay’s ongoing homage to the 2016 NYRB II squad.