It has become something of an annual tradition for the New York Red Bulls to jettison key players and leaders at the end of each season. However, this off-season the Major League Soccer New York originals outdid themselves, saying goodbye to both Bradley Wright-Phillips and Luis Robles.
Once again, this will be an off-season of change for RBNY.
Team legends leaving New York
Robles adds to the recent legend of the Red Bulls Captain’s Curse following his two immediate predecessors (Sacha Kljestan and Dax McCarty) out the door by team decision.
Both Robles and Wright-Phillips arrived at Red Bull Arena with a minimum of fanfare, now they leave together as team legends. Robles has already found a landing spot with expansion side Inter Miami CD, aka Club Internacional de Fútbol Miami.
BWP was mostly known as the son of English star Ian Wright and as the brother of the far more successful Shaun Wright-Phillips when he made his way to MLS in 2013. He departs seven years later with a team record 108 league goals, 125 in all competitions, a league record three 20-plus goal seasons, and two Golden Boot awards amongst his achievements with New York Red Bulls.
Similarly to Wright-Phillips, Robles was greeted with a shrug when he arrived from Germany to back up Ryan Meara in 2012 .
But when Meara went down with a hip injury the following season Robles made the job his, going on to become the soft spoken voice of the Red Bulls and departing as the best goalkeeper in team history.
Decisions loom for Red Bulls
The Red Bulls hierarchy of Sporting Director Denis Hamlett and coach Chris Armas have left themselves a mighty task in replacing their quality both on the pitch and off.
With Wright-Phillips and Robles moving on Red Bulls will also have to figure out what to do about star defenders Aaron Long and Kemar Lawrence. Jamaican international Lawrence has reportedly asked Red Bulls management for a trade and it would be quite a challenge for Hamlett to receive equal value for Lawrence, perhaps the league’s best fullback.
Long has established himself as a regular starter with the USMNT, which could ease his path to receiving the necessary work permit to move on to England’s Premier League. Earlier this year, West Ham showed interest in Long. Southampton is reported to have a real interest now. The athletic center-back is also said to have caught the attention of other clubs around Europe.
Transfer interest played a role in destabilizing the Red Bulls this past season. With Long, playmaking midfielder Kaku (now apparently settled) were two key players whose performance dipped from 2018. Hamlett will not want a repeat heading into 2020.
New York is still hoping to bring back late season loan signing Josh Sims. The former England youth international is due to return to Southampton in January, although there is interest on both ends to possibly extending the wingers stay with the team.
With Robles moving on the very patient Meara looks set to retake the starting goalkeeper position. Red Bulls added a potential backup in Kendall McIntosh, selecting the 25 year-old from the Portland Timbers in the ReEntry Draft.
The Red Bulls declined options on the following: midfielders Vincent Bezecourt, Marcus Epps, Derrick Etienne Jr., and Jean-Christophe Koffi, and goalkeeper Evan Louro.
New York Red Bulls 2020 Season
The Red Bulls open their 25th season when they host FC Cincinnati at home in Red Bull Arena on Sunday, March 1.
Here is the current roster for the New York Red Bulls:
Goalkeepers: Ryan Meara
Defenders: Rece Buckmaster, Kyle Duncan, Kemar Lawrence, Aaron Long, Michael Amir Murillo, Sean Nealis, Tim Parker and Amro Tarek
Midfielders: Cristian Casseres Jr., Sean Davis, Omir Fernandez, Kaku, Ben Mines, Alex Muyl, Danny Royer, Marc Rzatkowski, Florian Valot
Forwards: Tom Barlow, Mathias Jørgensen, Brian White