In a move that had been anticipated on both sides of the Atlantic for weeks, Tom Edwards has rejoined the New York Red Bulls on a season-long loan for the second year in a row. Edwards will occupy an international slot and, like last year, there is no announced purchase option on the loan.
The 23-year-old Englishman had rejoined boyhood club Stoke City after the end of his spell in New York last season, but a poorly-timed knee injury prevented the versatile defender from re-entering the first team picture. After Stoke’s signing of right back Demeaco Duhaney the writing was on the wall for Edwards’ immediate future at bet365 Stadium, and he now re-joins a New York side where he was a crucial part of a league-leading defensive structure last season.
Edwards had been a key glue figure for the Red Bulls both through his ability to fill various positions in the backline during a wide-ranging injury crisis as well as his affable leadership qualities. Chris Smith of 90min reported last month that Edwards demanded a return to New York despite interest from other MLS sides, and the Staffordshire native’s return is surely a major boost to the squad’s confidence with opening day a little less than two weeks away. Red Bulls brass reiterated the power of his personality in the club’s press release, with sporting chief Kevin Thelwell remarking on “the quality he has both on and off the field” while head coach Gerhard Struber praised Edwards for his “warrior mentality” and its impact on the squad.
A natural right back, Edwards is likely to platoon at that position for the Red Bulls again, though this time with new acquisition Dylan Nealis rather than the departed Kyle Duncan. His return also provides relief in central defense following the recent long-term injury diagnosis for Andres Reyes. Despite being shorter than the typical modern center back, the intelligent and tenacious Edwards was a standout in both 3/5-man backlines as well as a conventional 4-man unit in 2021.
After the initial landslide of departures at the close of last season, the Red Bulls are managing to claw back several key pillars of the inconsistent-but-solid 2021 team who had been scheduled to leave due to loan expirations. The return of Edwards comes on the heels of the permanent signing of building block goalkeeper Carlos Coronel and last week’s announcement that Caden Clark’s return on loan from a premature transfer to Leipzig is official. Red Bulls sporting chief Kevin Thelwell has described the team’s loan-heavy roster overhaul over the last year as a series of five-degree turns, but the most important turns are being successfully executed.