The New York Red Bulls end of year roster decisions made a big splash two weeks ago, announcing the departures of Bradley Wright-Phillips and Luis Robles. Keeping pace, the New York Red Bulls II announced some big changes of their own ahead of the 2020 season. Jared Stroud and Chris Lema are out.
Let’s take a look at all of the roster shuffling announced this morning and what the team needs to do this offseason:
Out of contract/retired
The following players are out of contract: midfielders Jared Stroud and Chris Lema.Defender Sean McSherry announced his retirement following his first professional season.
Stroud and Lema were standout performers in 2019. The pair combined for 189 chances created, more than any other duo in USL. Stroud finished 7th in USL with 9 assists, becoming the first NYRBII player to reach 20 goals and 20 assists. Many assumed Stroud created enough upward mobility to earn a first team contract. The door is not closed on either returning, but it seems unlikely at this moment.
Elsewhere, McSherry retired last week before the roster announcement. McSherry struggled to regain fitness following an injury during a match against the Tampa Bay Rowdies earlier in the season, but found steady time down the stretch. The highlight of McSherry’s season was a two goal performance against the Swope Park Rangers.
New York declined options on goalkeepers Rashid Nuhu and Miguel Silva, defenders Jordan Scarlett, Allen Yanes, and Janos Loebe, and forward Amarildo de Souza.
The biggest surprise here is declining options on Nuhu and Silva. Given Evan Louro’s release, it seemed like Nuhu or Silva would push for the starting role. With neither returning, there is currently no goalkeeper on the NYRBII roster. This could be a signal that newly signed Kendall McIntosh is seen as the starter heading into the 2020 season.
Yanes, Scarlett, and Loebe all struggled to make impacts last season. Yanes and Scarlett had the most to prove this season. Scarlett avoided injuries that hampered him in year’s past, but he still couldn’t find consistent form. Yanes went from a starter to struggling to make the bench. It seemed likely he would not return by midseason. The same is true of young forward Amarildo. He showed well in preseason, but failed to make much of an impact during the year.
Janos Loebe showed promising attacking traits, but struggled to learn the defensive role required of a left back. Coupled with the rise of John Tolkin, this was another move that seemed telegraphed.
NYRB II has exercised the options of defenders Preston Kilwien, Roy Boateng, and Edgardo Rito, midfielders Kyle Zajec and Omar Sowe, and forward Sebastian Elney.
I think you can split this group into three camps: promising, worth a shot, puzzling. Rito, Zajec, and Sowe all fall into the ‘promising’ camp. Rito’s attacking flair, though lacking dimension at times, kept opposing defenses on their heels. Another year to grow as a defender could prove important. Zajec and Sowe have bigger upsides. Both can take a big step forward next season as the options at both positions decreased.
Kilwien and Boateng fit in the ‘worth a shot’ camp. Boateng’s early injury kept the RBNY draft pick sidelined most of the season. The big defenders physical tools and quickness should serve him well in NY, but the clock is ticking to show or go now that he is healthy. Kilwien took strides during the season, but also struggled in distribution out of the back at times. For a big guy, would like to see him look a little more comfortable in the air, but maybe a new partner in the back helps him get there.
Elney stands alone in the ‘puzzling’ camp. Up top, Elney struggled as a lone striker in the Red Bulls system. He looked a bit more comfortable out wide, but didn’t show the breakaway speed or strong enough passing/footwork to run at defenders. Maybe another year proves that assessment false, but will be a big hill to climb.
“As always, with all the hard work players put in during the year, it is hard to see players move on, but we are very thankful for their efforts and contributions,” said Head Coach John Wolyniec. “We hope their time here helps them in their future success.”
NYRBII show year in and year out, that roster churn does not affect them. With significant changes this year, Wolyniec must take on another difficult challenge while picking up the pieces. Can he keep pulling rabbits out of his Red Bull cap? History says yes.
Photo by John Perdicaro