Red Bulls counting on Aaron Long in a “Big Way”

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

by ANTHONY J. MERCED

Jesse Marsch didn’t mince words when discussing New York Red Bull II defender Aaron Long and perhaps previewed the young defender’s role with the team this season.

“We’re counting on Aaron in a big way this year,” said Marsch when discussing the team’s first preseason game. “He really proved himself at the USL last year. He was Defender of the Year in that league and helped us win the championship in that division. He’s a bright kid, he’s athletic, he’s got good soccer I.Q.

“Overall we expect big things out of him.”

Long joined New York Red Bull II in 2016 from the Seattle Sounders FC 2 and played in 22 games through the team’s USL Championship run. His work didn’t go unnoticed by the senior side as he was loaned up to the MLS Club where he played in the CONCACAF Champions League group stage. With his help, the team advanced to the knockout stage where he is still eligible to play come February 22nd.

“We’ve got some older guys around him to help him mature a little bit,” said Marsch about Long’s development. “We’ve decided, in this club, to develop youth, to invest in youth and we count on our older guys to really help those guys develop.”

Whether a permanent stay as a New York Red Bull defender is possible remains to be seen. However, the signing of Damien Perrinelle may see Long in more of a loan spell for cup competitions instead of in MLS play. That could all change as the Red Bulls have been pushing for younger players and Long has found himself in good favor with the club’s coaching staff.