Skip to main content

What Does the Red Bulls Backline Look Like Without Aaron Long

photo by Matt Kremkau

Written by Daniel Feuerstein

As we begin a brand new Red Bulls season in Harrison, the team in red is looking to improve their roster with some signings that are needed to bolster their attack and we know about the rumors of the club trying to sign a young Belgian striker that looks to be tearing up their first division. But while that is going on, the questions are now looking toward the backline and a big omission just recently happened.

After spending seven seasons with the Red Bulls, Center back Aaron Long has moved on as a free agent and signed with the defending MS Cup Champions Los Angeles FC and has returned home to the West Coast and will be a part of a solid backline. He scored a combined 12 goals in over 11,000 minutes played to be that solid defender in the middle of the park to help his keeper prevent the goals into the net.

But with Long now playing for another side, that doesn't mean this Red Bulls backline has been weakened. There is a strong chance for that unit to be stronger and better in this 2023 season. John Tolkin has been a revelation as a fullback on the left side, while Kyle Duncan looks to return to the club along the right side from his Belgium stint at K.V, Oostende.

But the Center back department to me seems to be very strong. Ever since Aaron Long suffered his Achilles tendon rupture in 2021, Sean Nealis has quickly grown up to be a strong leader of the backline and has shown some offensive skills to convert chances during set pieces. Many have felt that Sean would be a perfect choice to wear the Captain's armband now that Long has moved on. 

Andres Reyes has shown the ability to be that solid Center back to prevent goals but at the same time, he has the chance to convert as well. But every once in a while, he shows some immaturity in his defending where his decision-making can lead toward a card-able offense. In a road match in 2021 against the New England Revolution, the good was scoring the opening goal, but the bad was two terrible fouls that were booked as yellow cards, then red to send him off after the first 30 to 35 minutes of that match.

Hassan Ndam returned last season to the club and restarted his Red Bulls career with the two team in USL Championship, but came back to the top side in a friendly against FC Barcelona, then remained with the MLS side till the end of the season last year. Before he was selected in the FC Cincinnati expansion draft, Ndam showed why he was going to be the future of the Red Bulls when he played a strong US Open Cup four-goal victory against NYCFC in the fourth round in 2018.

Since bouncing around on loan from Cincinnati, his talents were being wasted, but once he returned to the Red Bulls, Ndam showed that quality again and he is the reason why I believe he should be paired with Sean Nealis at the Center back position. While Sean's brother Dylan is normally a Center back by trade, he can easily jump to fullback whenever he is needed, so I consider him a jack-of-all-trades type of defender.

But at the end of the day, I consider the backline to be strong and still improved to be a wall defending well for the Red Bulls while choosing their moment to convert an occasional goal here or there. The only weakness I can see is that they will miss Long's aerial attack during set pieces, but that's one issue they won't have to worry about because defending is what the backline is supposed to do.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Red Bulls Announce Fan Experience Improvements

by Garry Redman On top of the theme nights announced this season, something new has been added the next time the season ticket holders and supporters step inside The Cathedral... The state-of-the-art LED lighting system at Red Bull Arena will provide higher on-field light levels for enhanced visibility and safety and introduce new entertainment features that heighten the overall experience for spectators.   Built around Musco's Total Light Control—TLC for LED™ technology, the new system is designed to provide exceptional playability and uniformity while minimizing glare. Cleaner, whiter light will elevate the broadcast quality for fans watching around the world.  Color-changing fixtures and Show-Light® Pro entertainment technology will allow the Red Bulls to wash the stadium in different colors and synchronize light shows to music, heightening the fan experience during goal celebrations, player introductions, and other big moments. If you have no idea what this means, click here t

The Unfortunate Vanzeir, Struber incident that has upset the fans, and league

photo by Matt Kremkau by Dan Feuerstein The Worst moment in New York Red Bulls/MetroStars history has finally come to a temporary conclusion. When I say a temporary conclusion, it means that Major League Soccer hasn't informed the masses of the punishment that would fit this horrible situation that graced the pitch at Red Bull Arena on Saturday night, April 8th against the San Jose Earthquakes. Here is the timeline of events that happened in that match as we try to piece together what all of us saw and how it all got started from beginning to end. In the 54th minute, another horrific challenge against the New York Red Bulls struck again as Judson delivered a two-footed mid-air challenge to the chest of Dylan Nealis and sadly all it got was a yellow card, Dylan's brother, and Captain Sean Nealis protested very loudly and earned his booking for his dissent of the referee's decision. While the arguments continued between Sean Nealis & Earthquakes representative Jeremy Ebob

Rumor: Dru Yearwood to be Traded to Nashville SC

photo by Matt Kremkau by Anthony J. Merced More trade rumors are circulating as Red Bulls midfielder Dru Yearwood is linked to a move to Nashville SC according to Tom Bogert of the Athletic . What Red Bull will receive for such a trade remains to be seen. However expectations are that the move will be finalized by the end of next week. Yearwood joined New York in 2020 from Brentford in England. Along the way he has made 86 appearances for the club, including 55 starts. In 2021 and 2022 he made 18 starts, scoring three goals and three assists, his total output for the club in Major League Soccer.  In 2023 Yearwood found his position in the club to vary greatly. At times he played in a defensive midfield role next to Frankie Amaya and other times higher up the field, almost as a second forward. After the departure of Cristian Casseres Jr. earlier in the year, it appeared as if Yearwood's minutes would increase. However Daniel Edelman stepped into the role, relegating Yearwood to more