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Tom Edwards officially leaves Red Bulls to join Barnsley on loan

Utility defender had been a fixture in New York lineup over past two seasons

MLS: Playoffs- Round One-New York Red Bulls at Philadelphia Union
Tom Edwards has officially left the Red Bulls.
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

After an awkward late summer saga, Tom Edwards has ended his stint with the New York Red Bulls.

On Thursday afternoon it was confirmed that the English defender — who has spent the last two seasons on loan in New York from Stoke City — will be returning home to begin a new loan with Barnsley of League One, England’s third division. Local Yorkshire reporter Doug O’Kane first reported the news before both Barnsley and New York issued official confirmations.

In a story first broken by OaM in late July, the 23-year-old Edwards returned to the UK midway through the MLS season to deal with personal matters. While Gerhard Struber and the Red Bulls officially maintained over recent weeks that Edwards was still a member of the squad, sources indicated to OaM that Edwards had given an amicable farewell to the squad ahead of his return to England in July and coming back to New York was never a possibility.

The eventual outcome sees the fullback enter his second career loan at League One level following a stint with Fleetwood Town in 2020. He joins Barnsley, the small-town club previously managed by Gerhard Struber in the Championship that eventually fell to relegation two seasons and two managers later.

Edwards thus ends his MLS career with 47 league appearances in what turned out to be a far more substantial stint than its temporary nature first implied. He first joined New York in early 2021 as one of several loans the club brought over in the hopes of revamping the squad during the depths of the covid pandemic. Playing multiple defensive roles as well as a stint in central midfield last summer, Edwards became a stalwart of Struber’s setup, with the Austrian often praising the “crazy man from England” for his mental and physical toughness. Though Edwards returned to train with Stoke this past winter, New York arranged a second loan season for the popular locker room figure earlier this year.

Edwards’ departure from the team in July correlated with a dramatic slump in the team’s defensive record, marked by ignominious second half collapses to Colorado and in the Open Cup semifinals to Orlando City. Though New York has stabilized in the back over recent weeks through the loan acquisition of former fullback Kyle Duncan, the loss of Edwards is a blow to Struber’s stated desire at the beginning of the summer to keep his current squad intact.

But then again, there’s no rule against arranging a third loan some time in the future…