The New York Red Bulls do not shy away from drafting players that do not receive invites to the MLS Combine. In last year’s draft alone, all 3 draftees did not participate at the combine: Tom Barlow, Jared Stroud, and Jose Aguinaga.
At this point, the draft is not a place the Red Bulls will find immediate impact players however they can find prospects to fill out the New York Red Bulls II roster. Here are 3 players who you won’t see on big boards or in mock drafts that the Red Bulls could draft
Sylvain Coco has a story similar to Florian Valot. He started his career in France before moving to Rider University. He just finished his second and final year. Coco is a big center back at 6-3 180 pounds. He played the last summer with the U-23 USL League 2 team appearing in 13 games in all competition scoring 4 goals and recording 1 assist.
In his senior season, he appeared in 15 games totaling over 1500 minutes and leading Rider to an NCAA championship birth. In the past, the Red Bulls have not been afraid to reach to take a player they like. While drafting Coco in the first round would be a big reach they don’t have a second round pick (traded to San Jose for the 2nd pick in waiver draft) and Coco was at the Toronto FC facility, so he isn’t completely unknown.
If the Red Bulls were to use a first round pick on him it would be a reach. However, it would not be a bad pick considering the value of the draft.
Kouma like Coco is native of France. He also spent a few years at Rider University. Like Coco, he also played on the u-23 USL League 2 team last summer, scoring 3 goals and appearing in 13 games. He also attended the Red Bull college combine. Kouma is a versatile player who has spent time playing both as a defensive midfielder and at center back.
Kouma has an athletic build and is decent with the ball at his feet. With multiple picks in the 4th round, Kouma could be an interesting addition to strengthen both the midfield and center back depth. If the team is looking to convert another defensive midfielder to center back, like they did with Aaron Long, Kouma would be a great option.
This one is a bit different from the other two. Ouligian did not spend any time with the organization previously. However, Ouligian did play at Colgate University, a school the Red Bulls have mined for talent in two consecutive drafts. Ouligian was the patriot league defender of the year and led a defense that gave up 0.77 goals a game.
He is a big defender at 6-5, but he reads the game well. Ouligian also has surprising speed for such a tall guy. His highlight tape is littered with him defending well in space and making crucial sliding tackles.
He could definitely be someone the Red Bulls look at with a late-round pick as they rebuild the CB depth chart across the organization.