When 20-year-old Omir Fernandez signed a homegrown deal this offseason, few imagined he’d be starting so quickly this season. On Saturday, that dream became a reality. Fernandez led the line against the Columbus Crew SC in the New York Red Bulls season opener.
“I think I would’ve said I hope that happens but it’s not likely yet,” Fernandez said. “To be in position I have to thank God and everyone that’s made this possible.”
Fernandez made his first professional start against the Columbus Crew on Saturday playing up top as the lone striker. The former Wake Forest attacker spent most of his time playing on the outside while there scoring 12 goals and adding 6 assists during his sophomore year.
Fernandez stood up to the home side’s physicality and challenged the Crew backline throughout the match. He helped create chances with his work rate and distribution. He was one of the promising bright spots for the team.
RBNY manager Chris Armas spoke highly of his team after the game on Saturday. Fernandez was one of the players that stood out to him.
“Omir Fernandez was asked to play the “9” up top and I think we all can see why we like him,” Armas said. “He wasn’t just a guy to fill in he’s clever on the ball, his understanding and the way he plays and he’s give to the team.”
“He wasn’t just a guy to fill in he’s clever on the ball, his understanding and the way he plays and he’s give to the team.”
Fernandez had already appeared for RBNY as he came on as a sub during the first leg against
Atlético Pantoja a week ago. The forward talked about the difference between playing a sub role and starting.
“When I was a sub it was kind of quick in the moment, you’re going to play,” Fernandez said. “Here it was a few days before of knowing and trying to prepare mentally to start my first MLS game and trying to see how i’m going to do.”
One thing Armas and the organization have talked about a lot this off season was the team’s depth. That depth allows the Red Bulls to challenge for every trophy available this season. Based on Saturday, Fernandez and the rest of the squad held their own against a good Eastern Conference team.
“As a team we played our hearts out I think we gave everything we could and to put a team that’s not known for starting, i feel like we did well for ourselves,” Fernandez said. “To come to Columbus and in their home I feel like we did what we needed to do and a point for us we thought it was a good result.”
Photo by Bill Twomey Photography.