Following the Red Bulls’ 2-1 win over LAFC, the team honored forward Bradley Wright-Phillips for scoring his 100th MLS goal in 159 games.
The ceremony consisted of lovely speeches by GM Marc de Grandpre, sporting director Denis Hamlett, broadcaster Steve Cangialosi, as well as pre-recorded messages from RBNY legends Thierry Henry, Dax McCarty, Mike Petke, Lloyd Sam, and others.
However, perhaps the most surprising announcement of the ceremony came at the finale (and no, it wasn’t the inscribed Rolex that de Grandpre awarded BWP – though the crowd certainly adored it). No, the big surprise announcement was that the team would never be re-issuing the No. 99 jersey to any other player. Effectively retiring the jersey on the spot, and unveiling a retired jersey shield above the Best 20 in 20 ring inside Red Bull Arena.
The move was certainly shocking (superstitious fans might even go so far as to call it a jinx) and even controversial in some fans’ eyes. But it certainly did raise an interesting question that we pressed to the RBNN writers:
#AskRBNN – What should be the next Red Bulls jersey that gets retired?
Steve Toto – 31. Robles
Liam Pettit – Agreed [on Robles with Steve Toto].
John Perdicaro – Have to agree on Robles here.
Kyle Debelak – Agreed on Robles as well. He and BWP’s journeys to RBNY had some parallels. Released by former team, contemplating retirement, but took a chance and it paid off for both of them.
Joe G. – Just to be different, one day, captain Sean Davis after our fourth MLS Cup win.
Paul Vernick – Agree on Robles. First player I met on the team, instantly loved his motivation from previous challenges and how he has been able to be a crucial part of the RBNY team in the last years
Joseph Steen – Yeah has to be Robles.
Tzvi Machlin: Thierry Henry’s No. 14. I never got a chance to see him play, but as best as I can tell, Henry’s presence (not to mention his stellar scoring output) completely changed the culture of the New York Red Bulls into a globally recognized outfit. He was vital in securing the 2013 Supporters’ Shield, served as captain, retired as the team’s all-time leading assist provider.
Final Vote: Of the eight writers polled, the winner was as clear as day: Red Bulls No. 31 Luis Robles.
It’s hard to make an argument for anyone other than Robles: He’s the team’s all-time leader in wins, clean sheets, minutes played, and every other meaningful goalkeeping statistic. He has been the starting goalkeeper for both of the team’s Supporters’ Shield titles, an MLS All-Star, MLS Best XI, MLS Goalkeeper of the Year, captain for 2018, and holds numerous MLS records for longevity.
A fitting choice, perhaps, and one that the organization itself may one day agree with.
Which RBNY player should have his jersey number retired next? Let us know!
Photo by Bill Twomey Photography