A Look at the New York Red Bulls Depth Chart

by RUSS McKENZIE

With the New York Red Bulls 2016 season about to kick off, Jesse Marsch, once again, seems to have a plethora of options at multiple positions.

After winning their second Supporter’s Shield in three years, head coach Jesse Marsch and Sporting Director Ali Curtis made it a point to retain the services of the majority of the core of the 2015 roster. However, injuries to key players, and the departure of Matt Miazga have forced Marsch into a position where he will have to test the depth of his roster early on.  Add to that a compressed multi-competition schedule, New York will need to use it’s depth if they are to build on last season’s success.

With that said, let’s break the Red Bulls 2016 roster by position.

Goalkeepers:

Projected Starter: Luis Robles

Bench: Kyle Reynish, Ryan Meara

Departures: Santiago Castano

There was a point in preseason where Red Bulls fans were wondering who exactly would back up Luis Robles. That got sorted out in due time, as Kyle Reynish has returned to the fold as the man who will back up the 2015 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year. Ryan Meara, back from a year long loan to the cross-river rival NYCFC, will likely take the field with New York Red Bulls II to keep in game shape with the USL affiliate now that Santiago Castano has departed the club.

Defense:

Projected Opening Day Starters: Sal Zizzo, Gideon Baah, Ronald Zubar, Kemar Lawrence

Bench: Chris Duvall, Connor Lade, Zach Carroll, Justin Bilyeu, Karl Ouimette, Scott Thomsen

Injured: Damien Perrinelle

Departures: Matt Miazga, Roy Miller, Shawn McLaws, Anthony Wallace

Newcomers: Baah, Carroll, Bilyeu

As last season opened, Ronald Zubar, freshly signed to New York, sustained an injury that would keep him out for nearly half the season. Matt Miazga and Damien Perrinelle went on to become one of the best centerback pairings in the league.

This year is no different. Perrinelle is recovering from knee surgery and will likely not see action until May. Zubar sustained a knock in training camp and was questionable for the opener. However, Zubar is ready to roll and will lineup alongside newly signed Ghanian national Gideon Baah in the middle of defense.

The Red Bulls get a bit thin on the outside. Sal Zizzo has proven himself to be a flexible player, starting 2015 at midfield, and then finding a starting spot on the left side at the end of the season. Zizzo held onto that spot even with homegrown Connor Lade nipping at his heels for playing time. It’s likely that Zizzo will remain the starter at RB in 2016. However, don’t count out Chris Duvall. Duvall was the defacto starter until a broken leg ended his 2015 season. He’s been looking better and better with every practice, and could challenge Zizzo once his fitness is 100%

On the left side, there’s no reason to think that Kemar Lawrence will not continue to dazzle. Lawrence was a revelation last season, and received multiple Jamaican National team appearances for his play.

The bench, however, is a bit interesting. Karl Ouimette and Connor Lade return to the fold, but, it’s the Red Bulls’ youth that make the defense interesting. Justin Bilyeu has been playing understudy to Lawrence, although Lade can play either the right or left. Bilyeu was drafted in the first round of the 2016 MLS SuperDraft. Like Bilyeu, Carroll also came to the Red Bulls via this year’s draft and has proven himself to be a good option off the bench. If the injury bug bites New York, these youngsters could see extensive minutes.

Midfield:

Projected Opening Day Starters: Sacha Kljestan, Dax McCarty, Felipe, Lloyd Sam

Bench: Sean Davis, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Alex Muyl, Tyler Adams, Derrick Etienne

Newcomers: Muyl, Etienne

With the Red Bulls focused on a 4-2-2-2 formation in preseason, Jesse Marsch seems to be favoring a four man midfield. McCarty had a career year in 2015 and proved to be world class while cushioning the backline and staying connected to the core of the Red Bulls transition game. Instead of lining up next to Felipe, however, it looks like he will share his line with Sacha Kljestan. Kljestan became an integral part of Marsch’s high press after a slow start in 2015. With a new formation, Kljestan will be called upon to do more in transition than last year. A full preseason, and time for recovery, will benefit the veteran. Felipe and Lloyd Sam will line up in the next line and will be expected to drive the attack from the wings.

Other than Shaun Wright-Phillips, the midfield remains young. Tyler Adams, Alex Muyl, and Derrick Etienne join fellow homegrown Sean Davis in supporting a group that produced one of the most dangerous midfields in Major League Soccer in 2015. All of these players are familiar with the system, as Adams, Muyl, and Etienne all came up from the Red Bulls Academy, and Davis spent the majority of 2015 with the senior team.

Forward:

Projected Opening Day Starters: Bradley Wright-Phillips, Mike Grella

Bench: Anatole Abang, Chris Thorsheim, Brandon Allen, Alex Muyl

Injured: Gonzalo Veron

Bradley Wright-Phillips has spent a season-and-a-half as the lone striker at the top of a 4-2-3-1 formation. This season, he seemed to strike a productive partnership with fellow designated player Gonzalo Veron at the top of a two striker system. However, with Veron possibly out for 1 -3 weeks with hamstring issues, the 2014 Golden Boot winner will likely be paired with Mike Grella. The partnership could work out, as Veron recovers.

Add in Cameroonian forward Anatole Abang, and the Red Bulls seem set at this position.


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  • Andrew Bissonette

    Watch for Brandon Allen to have a surprising impact this season.


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