At the dawn of preseason (and more importantly, minutes after an OaM defensive diagnostic hit the streets) the New York Red Bulls are dealing with a new long-term injury to a key center back.
On the same week that Aaron Long returned to full training with the Red Bulls after an Achilles injury kept him out for the bulk of last year, it was announced that Andrés Reyes will miss four to six months with a foot injury.
The injury suffered by Reyes was described in a club press release as a Jones fracture, a break on his pinky toe bone. The release additionally states that the injury first occurred during personal workouts Reyes was conducting in the offseason, implying that the injury required review upon his arrival back at the club before a final evaluation was made.
In his first year in New York after signing from Atlético Nacional after a loan stint with Inter Miami, Reyes was a crucial figure in a Red Bulls defense that was tied for first in the league with only 33 goals conceded in 2021. His athleticism allowed the team to stretch its backline further and further up the field and also produced two goals off of set pieces.
The Red Bulls have a direct replacement for Reyes in Aaron Long, whose absence last year gave Reyes the opportunity to emerge as one of the league’s elite defenders. But the surplus at the center back position that promised lineup flexibility to Gerhard Struber has now evaporated. Highly-touted but untested Uruguayan center back Lucas Monzon will likely see more minutes than initially planned, while likely returnee Tom Edwards will probably be required for center back depth instead of being a stalwart right back.
But injury crises in the back will be nothing new to Gerhard Struber, who dealt with a period over last summer where each of Long, Reyes, and Nealis were injured. While the team struggled during those July and August weeks, a situation with only one absence and a month to arrange transfers before the season is a much more favorable one. While the Red Bulls will be missing one of their most talented players for the bulk of the season, they will hope that that depth and the club’s next-man-up attitude will soften the blow.