We never really got a complete roster from the New York Red Bulls for the team’s second 2018 preseason training camp. But now the first team has left Arizona to focus on CONCACAF Champions League, the club has issued a list of who has been left behind to finish up RBNY’s commitment to the 2018 Mobile Mini Sun Cup.
If you watch any more of the Red Bulls’ work in Tucson this month, you are effectively watching the II-team’s preseason. There are three games left for RBNY in Mobile Mini Sun Cup: against Houston Dynamo on February 17; against Portland Timbers on February 21; and a final classification game against an opponent to be determined. Those matches will all be contested by the players on the 27-man roster released by RBNY on February 17.
As expected, the roster is a mix of left-behind first-teamers, out-and-out II-teamers, Academy prospects, unsigned draft picks, and trialists. The team’s list divides the players by position: three goalkeepers, eight defenders, nine midfielders, seven forwards.
It is preseason and these are mostly young players, so Once A Metro chooses not to get too hung up on positions. We’ll divide the roster into first-teamers, reserves, and trialists.
GK Evan Louro - listed on the official roster as RBNY’s third-choice ‘keeper, Louro should be under no illusions about his first-team prospects this year. He’s looking at another full season in USL with the II team, until or unless injuries or absences deprive the first team of Luis Robles or Ryan Meara.
D - Hassan Ndam - the teenage Cameroonian will surely be hoping for more first-team minutes this season (he got one in 2017), but for now he’ll have to keep proving himself at the USL level. Consider him a prospective starter for the II team, for now.
D - Tommy Redding - it’s slightly surprising Redding didn’t make it on the plane out of Arizona with the first team. The 21-year-old was a US youth national team regular and has accumulated 38 MLS appearances over three seasons with Orlando City. But he is new to RBNY and Jesse Marsch only needs sufficient cover for one game-day roster. Redding clearly didn’t make the cut. It will be interesting to see whether he starts the competitive year as a II-teamer or a bench option in MLS.
D - Kevin Politz - a versatile defender who is well-versed in the current RBNY system, having come through the club’s Academy and U-23 program, the 21-year-old Politz is exactly where he’s expected to be: starting his rookie year as a pro with the II team.
M - Cristian Casseres, Jr - earlier in preseason it was possible to believe that the 18-year-old Casseres had forced his way into the first-team reckoning from the get-go. He was on the scoresheet in RBNY’s first preseason friendly and picked up a lot of favorable comments from his new teammates. But he’s also young and new to RBNY and the USA, so some time to settle in is to be expected.
M - Amando Moreno - it’s maybe more surprising that Moreno is listed as a midfielder on this roster than that he is not with the first team. Still, perhaps it’s the fact that his best position in RBNY’s system is still to be determined that explains why a player with (limited) Liga MX experience isn’t part of the first-team CCL squad.
F - Ben Mines - the 17-year-old Homegrown signing will be doing very well if he sees any first-team time at all this year. Time is on his side, and in 2018 that time is most likely to be spent with the reserves.
F - Stefano Bonomo - 13 goals in 16 appearances in USL last season won Bonomo a first-team contract for 2018. After three years with the II team, he’s about as familiar with RBNY’s style of play as it is possible to be, and the club is certainly familiar with him. He also offers a more conventional target-man option to the first team. But the tallest forward on RBNY’s MLS roster has been left out of the team’s CCL plans, for now.
The II team only has six players under contract at the moment, and Andrew Lombard is recovering from surgery. The remaining five men directly contracted to play for the RBNY reserves in USL are all listed on the club’s roster for its remaining 2018 preseason games.
D - Jordan Scarlett - there is quite the contest at the back for the II-team this season. Scarlett is one of three (maybe four) Red Bulls on USL contracts who will seek to outshine the first-teamers who drop down to the reserves in 2018.
D - Wahab Ackwei - the 21-year-old Ghanaian arrives at RBNY with three pro seasons in Ghana under his belt. He can be assumed to be hoping to have a first-team contract by this time next year.
M - Steven Echevarria - An Academy product who might have been a candidate for a Homegrown contract, Echevarria knows what is expected of him at RBNY. He’s a rookie pro, but a veteran Red Bull.
M - Andrew Tinari - he was a trialist this time last year, and not a particularly fancied one at that. But Tinari has met every challenge RBNY has thrown at him, winning a II-team contract in last year’s preseason, and subsequently becoming one of the few players the reserve team opted to hang to for another year.
M- Ethan Kutler - a forward in college, RBNY drafted Kutler with the express intent of converting him to full-back. He showed well enough, it seemed, that he got another year with the II-team out of his rookie season, but he was listed on the first 2018 preseason roster as a forward, and now the Red Bulls think Kutler is a midfielder. His role on the II-team in 2018 is unexpectedly one of the more intriguing questions of the moment.
Any unsigned player is a trialist, though some may be more actively seeking pro deals for this year than others.
GK - James Hickok - former Dartmouth ‘keeper whose college paper thought would be exploring pro options in Europe last summer. The II-team is short a back-up ‘keeper, and can’t always rely on Academy prospects to fill out its subs bench.
GK - Scott Levene - UCONN’s starting ‘keeper for the last three seasons, Levene will challenge Hickok for the II-team’s goalkeeping vacancy.
D - Jordan Bailon - the 17-year-old RBNY Academy prospect is expected to head to Dartmouth this fall. But he is a versatile full-back option for this squad, and perhaps for the II-team during the summer.
D - Niko De Vera - RBNY’s second pick of the 2018 MLS SuperDraft, and a candidate for the starting left-back job with the II team this year - if he wins a contract.
D - Kyle Duncan - a Red Bulls Academy graduate who turned pro with Valenciennes in France, Duncan is back in the US after a couple of seasons abroad that didn’t quite deliver the breakthrough he might have hoped for. But he left the RBNY Academy as a US youth national teamer and a highly-rated prospect. The fact he is still with the Red Bulls this deep into preseason - he has been training with the team since at least the first preseason camp in Florida last month - suggests he’s getting a very serious look from his former club.
M - John Murphy - very recently returned from an Ireland youth national team camp, Murphy turned heads playing for the RBNY Academy in last year’s Generation Adidas Cup: it’s not every day you see a 65-yard shot on goal that actually hits the net.
M - Jose Aguinaga - a fourth-round draft pick for RBNY in this year’s draft, and a regular for the Red Bulls’ U-23s in PDL last season, Aguinaga is a creative attacking player.
M - Jared Stroud - another of RBNY’s currently-unsigned 2018 draft picks, and also a graduate of the team’s Academy and last year’s U-23 team.
M - Danny Cordeiro - a prolific scorer at in NJ high school soccer, Cordeiro was a less-regular visitor to the score-sheet in four years at the college level with NJIT.
F - JP Marin - Coming into this camp off a free-scoring season for the RBNY Academy U18/19 team.
F - Brian White - RBNY’s first pick of the 2018 SuperDraft, and last year’s PDL Golden Boot winner and MVP, White will be presumed to be leading the II-team’s attack in 2018, when and if he is signed.
F - Billy Stevens - a Red Bulls Academy and Michigan graduate - like Evan Louro - the biggest question about Stevens is why RBNY has listed him as a forward when he is traditionally regarded as a defender.
F - Jordan Jones - drafted out of Oregon State by LAFC this year, Jones appears to already be looking for a new club.
RBNY’s first game featuring this roster is against Houston Dynamo on February 17, kicking off at 8:15 pm, Eastern.