The New York Red Bulls have penned Red Bull II players Jared Stroud and Chris Lema to MLS contracts. The New Jersey natives are the first two signings for 2020.
Stroud, a midfielder from Chester, is a 2018 SuperDraft pick from Colgate University. While playing for the Colgate Raiders, he helped the team to their first ever appearance in the NCAA Tournament’s ‘Sweet Sixteen.’
A fourth-round pick, Stroud made a place for himself on the USL team, scoring seven goals and tallying eleven assists in his first season. He recorded 22 starts in 33 appearances for NYRBII in 2018, including starts in all three USL playoff matches. During the 2019 season, Stroud became the first NYRB II player ever to tally 20 career goals and assists. “I’m incredibly excited to sign an MLS contract with the team that I grew up supporting as a kid,” said Stroud in a press release.
Lema, a Red Bull Academy alum from Ridgefield, continued his playing career at Georgetown University. In his 79 appearances with the Hoyas, he made five goals and twelve assists from midfield. Lema received several accolades from the Big East Conference. First, he earned the All-Rookie team in 2014 and First team All-Conference in 2017. In addition, Lema has made appearances for the United States National Youth teams at the U-17 and U-20 levels.
RBNY manager Chris Armas said of Lema, “[w]e love Chris’ attitude and are looking forward to working with him on a regular basis. It’s great for the organization to continue to find, develop and give opportunities to talented young players.” Lema is only the ninth USL player in the league’s history to score four goals in one game, during an 8-1 rout against Atlanta United II. “This is where I want to be and where I want to succeed. I’m excited to get started and give back to the club,” Lema said of his joining the first team.
The Red Bulls waived previous USL standouts Vince Bezecourt and Derrick Etienne, Jr. following the 2019 season. Sporting Director Denis Hamlett 2020 roster revamp starts by promoting NYRBII midfielders for tried and true Red Bulls system players. “Over the last several seasons we have established a strong pathway for talented players to move up and contribute at the MLS level. We are proud to have helped Jared and Chris take this next step in their career,” Hamlett said of the signings.
The 2020 RBNY campaign begins at Red Bull Arena on March 1st, when they face FC Cincinnati.
Photo by John Perdicaro