The New York Red Bulls’ 2018 pre-season is heading toward the conclusion of its first stage. The team plays its final Florida friendly against Philadelphia on February 3, before heading home to re-charge prior to embarking on the Arizona leg of its East-to-West preparations for the year ahead.
In addition to fitness, form, and tactics, the team must get its first and second team rosters in place for 2018, and that off-field work is progressing in step on-field training. On February 2, RBNY looked to have (finally) landed Argentine transfer target Alejandro Romero Gamarra - Kaku, as he will be better known. And the team took a moment to officially announce the signing of teenage midfielder Cristian Casseres, Jr.
Pending receipt of his P-1 Visa and ITC, Cásseres, Jr is a Discovery Signing, and will occupy an international spot on the Red Bulls first-team roster. The Venezuela youth international has been in pre-season training camp from the start, and there was little doubt he was joining the team. The only question was which team: RBNY’s MLS squad, or the II team in USL. The official announcement settles that question: Casseres is on the MLS roster. A first-team contract doesn’t mean he’ll be a first-team player this year - still bet on Casseres featuring for RBNY II in USL before he logs a competitive appearance for the Red Bulls in MLS - but it does suggest the Red Bulls want the young midfielder a little closer to the senior squad than he would be if he was contracted to the reserves.
“Cristian is an exciting young player that we are happy to welcome to our club,” said Sporting Director Denis Hamlett. “He was identified through our scouting network as a player that has the qualities we look for, and we were glad to get him here in time for the start of preseason camp. We look forward to getting him integrated and seeing how he can help our club.”
That integration is, of course, well underway. Casseres picked up a goal and an assist in RBNY’s opening scrimmage of pre-season.
Venezuela’s men’s youth national teams have a strong reputation at the moment, thanks to the U-20s’ run to the final of the 2017 U-20 World Cup. Casseres briefly intruded on the fringes of that squad, and was a regular for the U-17s.
He brings top-flight professional experience from his home country. He made his debut for Deportivo La Guaira in the Venezuelan First Division at age 16, ultimately totaling 15 appearances for the senior team with one goal.
“What we’ve seen from Cristian has been promising,” said head coach Jesse Marsch. “He fits into our style of play and we think he can contribute at the MLS level. I look forward to him establishing himself within the group and competing every day.”
Of course Casseres himself is very excited to get underway with his new teammates in an official capacity. “I am very happy to have signed with the New York Red Bulls,” said Casseres, “I believe this is one of the best clubs in MLS and I am excited to get started with my career here.”
He should shortly be joined on the list of RBNY’s 2018 signings by Kaku.