The New York Red Bulls II are on a bit of a different journey ahead of their sixth season. Over the last few years, NYRBII have travelled west, taking part in the first team’s preseason, while the MLS side prepared for Concacaf Champions League play. Without the added international competition, NYRBII must forge their own preseason path.
That path starts with the preseason roster announced on February, 11th. Per usual, there are only a handful of rostered players heading into preseason, so the roster consists of players looking to earn their way onto the team. This year’s crop features some very intriguing prospects at all levels.
Let’s take a look:
The biggest question marks heading into the season for NYRBII are on the backline, and that starts in goal. Evan Louro’s departure this offseason leaves a big hole in the net. Louro held down the position for the last three seasons, so finding a steady replacement is paramount. While the answer is most likely Kendall McIntosh, the rest of the goalkeeping corps is still up in the air.
Alex Boboccea, like Omar Sowe, is a Harrison, NJ native that has been in the Red Bulls Academy. He has spent time with NYRBII in the past, but has yet to see any competitive minutes. At only 17, there is no need to rush him along, but he has a leg up because of the staff’s familiarity with him.
Marcellin Gohier and David Greczek join Boboccea as guest players in camp. Goheir, from Nantes, France, captained Manhattan College last season, where he holds a school record 17 career shutouts. Gohier carried a 1.41 goals against average, and made 57 saves in 2019.
Greczek, from Fairfield, NJ, spent time with FC Motown and Grenville Triumph last season after graduating from Rutgers University. He also had stints at USL PDL side Jersey Express and Swope Park Rangers.
This is where things get a little murky. Injuries to Preston Kilwien and Edgardo Rito negate their participation. Roy Boateng and Kyle Zajec are with the first team in Arizona. That leaves four players on the roster for preseason, and one of them has spent most of his time as a midfielder.
The crop of defenders is made up of two academy players, and two trialists: Jared Gilbey, Bryce Lebel, Connor Maurer, and Ernest Mitchell.
Gilbey spent the last four years as a regular starter for one of the best college soccer teams in the country, Stanford. During his tenure, he racked up a host of accolades including the 2019 All-Pac-12 Second Team. Gilbey’s college career, and his career in general, has mostly been in the middle of the park. Seeing him listed as a defender certainly raises eyebrows. If he makes the team, maybe we see an Aaron Long type transition from the player, pushing him to the backline while still utilizing his midfielder toolset.
Lebel and Maurer are also RB Academy kids, so seeing them starting to make their way to NYRBII is not surprising. Lebel spent some time with the USL side last season, making four appearances, and one start. Maurer and Lebel anchored the RB U-19 backline during the fall season, and their familiarity with each other should prove valuable during preseason.
Ernest Mitchell is a Montclair native currently attending FGCU. He’s a big body and can play in the midfield or defense. He spent the first three years of college at Marist, but following a struggle for starting minutes in 2018, transferred to Florida Gulf Coast University in 2019.
All four of these guys could make the team, but it will be interesting to see who comes out of this group. The current roster has three defenders, so theoretically, they may still need to add players before USL kicks off the 2020 season. Perhaps we see more additions at a later date.
Stay tuned for part II where we look at the midfield and forwards
Photo by John Perdicaro