|photo by Matt Kremkau
by Anthony J. Merced
New York Red Bulls winger Omir Fernandez has becoming head coach Troy Lesesne's top offensive option in 2023, following injuries to Dante Vanzeir and a lack of production from Elias Manoel and Tom Barlow. The 24 year-old New York City native has taken his opportunity and becoming the leading scorer for the Red Bulls. This season he has six goals in all competitions and been an important part of New York staying close to the playoff line.
"He had an argument to start tonight," said Lesesne after Fernandez was subbed into the game for an injured Vanzeir. "It was a good decision. Omir is our leading goalscorer this year. Taking him off at the end, I told him that it was down to a matter of not getting balls in the box, which we did not do enough of."
Since joining the first team in 2019, Fernandez has been a solid role player, waiting for his chance to break through under different head coaches. 2022 saw the biggest increase in dedication to him from the club as he started 22 games under head coach Gerhard Struber. This season, he continues that trend and has added to his stats.
All of this to say that Fernandez will be a hard player to replace in the team. Currently, he is on the last year of his MLS contract and will be a free agent. Historically, New York has not been able to keep their top talent with players like Sean Davis and Aaron Long recently departing the club in the free-agent window.
While Fernandez isn't going to blow anyone away with his stats, the team has found themselves a reliable player that fits into the system. If they do make the playoffs, his lift in combating injuries around the club will be a direct reason for the team's success.