Often tasked with the most responsibility and expected to cover almost all areas of the pitch, the midfielder position is a vital component for any successful team. New York Red Bulls have seen a variety of different players fill these roles, and some have been the driving force of the squad.
Whether a holding midfielder focusing on defensive work or an attack-minded number ten looking to create scoring opportunities, efficiency is a top priority from the middle of the lineup.
New York Red Bulls: Top five midfielders in club history
Major League Soccer has always had clubs looking to make a statement with marquee signings, and the Metrostars certainly had that in their inaugural 1996 campaign with Roberto Donadoni. Following UEFA Champions League and Serie A triumphs with AC Milan, the Italian international was an MLS All-Star with New York and brought a buzz to the city.
Selected in the second round of the 2004 MLS SuperDraft, Seth Stammler spent seven seasons with the Red Bulls. The Ohio native ranks eighth in team history with 157 appearances across all competitions.
Sometimes promising young talent moves on to new challenges, and that was certainly the case for Michael Bradley. Still only just a teenager with the Metrostars, Bradley transferred to SC Heerenveen in the Netherlands in 2006 and began his European journey.
Big-name acquisitions in the midfield do not always work out as planned also. Claudio Reyna and Juninho Pernambucano were not able to replicate previous career successes during their short stints with the franchise.
Currently, head coach Chris Armas relies on the likes of Alejandro Romero Gamarra and Tyler Adams as major contributors.
5) Dane Richards (2007-2012, 2015)
An All-American at Clemson University before being drafted by the Red Bulls in 2007, Dane Richards brought pace and skill to the midfield for New York. Mostly playing out wide, the Jamaican international was a crucial part of the 2008 side as they made their way to the MLS Cup final.
After spells in England and Norway, he returned briefly in 2015. Richards ranks fifth in team history with 176 appearances, scoring 23 goals and adding 30 assists.
4) Sacha Kljestan (2015-2017)
During his three years with New York, Sacha Kljestan established himself as one of the best midfielders in terms of both vision and patience on the ball in MLS. The US international played three seasons with the Red Bulls, and is the club’s all-time leader in assists with 54.
His efforts in the middle helped to bring a Supporters’ Shield title for manager Jesse Marsch in 2015. Now with Orlando City SC, Kljestan made a significant impact in his time at Red Bull Arena.
3) Amado Guevara (2003-2006)
Perhaps the most productive attacking midfielder in the opposing half ever for New York. Amado Guevara was a true leader for the Metrostars when he arrived in 2003. The Honduran’s skill in the final third guided the team to the U.S. Open Cup final in his first year, and an MLS MVP for the 2004 season.
Traded in 2006, Guevara is sixth on the team’s all-time scoring list (highest for a midfielder) with 39 goals. His 39 assists are tied for third in club history.
2) Tab Ramos (1996-2002)
The first Metro player ever ended up being an important one, and Tab Ramos was a key part of the team’s early years. A veteran of three FIFA World Cups with the USMNT (1990, 1994, 1998), Ramos came to MLS after a period with Real Betis in Spain and UANL Tigres in Mexico.
A three-time MLS All-Star and team captain for four years, he is level with Amado Guevara for third in team history with 39 assists. Normally present in the discussion for America’s all-time best players, Tab Ramos was the right player at the right moment for the Metrostars.
1) Dax McCarty (2011-2016)
Acquired in a trade with D.C. United in 2011 for Dwayne De Rosario, Dax McCarty was the heart and soul of the Red Bulls midfield for much of this decade. Soon to be passed by Bradley Wright-Phillips this year, the Florida native is tied for second all-time in appearances with 198 across all competitions.
A ferocious competitor, his hard work in the middle allowed those around him to shine. New York made the MLS Cup Playoffs in every one of his six seasons. McCarty also served as captain for two years following the departure of Thierry Henry. A shock trade to the Chicago Fire last year ended his run earlier than many expected, but Dax McCarty’s place in New York Red Bulls lore is already cemented.
Photo By F. Vera | DailyHarrison.com [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons