New York Red Bulls II’s 2018 USL season kicks off on March 17. With about a month to go before it is due to start a new competitive season, the team’s roster was looking a little bare. NYRB II renewed five player contracts after 2017 - and one of those players (Noah Powder) has subsequently left the club, while another (Andrew Lombard) is recovering from surgery.
The II team doesn’t really rely on having a full roster of its own: it will provide playing time to a number of players on first-team contracts - mostly the MLS squad’s rookies and back-ups - as well as offering minutes to a number of Academy prospects. Still, the team usually has slightly more than four players under contract. No surprise then that the Red Bulls reserves have started the process of filling out the roster for 2018.
Two new III-teamers were officially announced on February 14: Wahab Ackwei and Steven Echeverria.
Ackwei was pre-announced by Kristian Dyer almost two weeks ago.
Per source, #RBNY have signed Wahab Ackwei, a 21-year old centerback from Ghana. Will play for New York Red Bulls II in the @USL this year. Story to come Saturday.— Kristian Dyer (@KristianRDyer) February 3, 2018
The 21-year-old Ghanaian defender lands at NYRB II after three seasons playing for Inter Allies FC in his home country. In December, he was reported to have joined Hearts of Oak - one of Ghana’s more successful clubs, but that deal never quite materialized. Hearts of Oak’s loss is NYRB II’s gain. And perhaps Ackwei’s acquisition offsets the (ongoing) confusion over Jerome Philip’s future.
Philip was announced to have signed with RBNY (more accurately, NYRB II) around the same time Ackwei was thought to be joining Hearts of Oak. So the Red Bulls are currently breaking even on players who appeared to have settled their next move last December.
Alongside Ackwei, NYRB II has signed midfielder Steven Echevarria. An Academy product and regular with RBNY U-23s during his time in college, Echevarria appeared in RBNY’s first preseason training camp as a trialist.
This is me at 14 years old when I first started playing for this great organization. Seven years later I’m extremely excited and proud to say that I’ve signed my first professional contract with @newyorkredbulls @nyrb2 @RedBullsAcademy #NYisRed #NYRBII #TheFutureisHere ⚪️ pic.twitter.com/v2dmFhrEOp— Steven Echevarria (@Steven_Echy) February 15, 2018
A II-team contract doesn’t necessarily mean significant II-team minutes. Echevarria and Ackwei will compete for time on the field in USL with players already on the first-team roster and up-and-comers from the Academy.
NYRB II will, more or less, be taking over the remainder of RBNY’s preseason commitments in Arizona while the first team focuses on its upcoming CONCACAF Champions League game in Costa Rica on February 22. The II team starts its 2018 USL campaign on March 17 against TFC II.