Late Friday afternoon, the Red Bulls' organization finally announced the roster composition for its inaugural USL season. The mix of MLS loanees, young USL players, and even younger academy player will face the Rochester Rhinos, who are still without their players loaned from the Revolution.
That roster is below:
Goalkeepers (2): Santiago Castaño* (24), Rafael Diaz (74)
Defenders (3): Tyler Adams, Marcello Borges** (39), Michael da Fonte (44)
Midfielders (12): Franklin Castellanos (77), Alexander Clay 56), Derrick Etienne** (36), Colin Heffron (51), Victor Manosalvas (70), Dan Metzger, Marius Obekop* (21), Konrad Plewa (41), Manolo Sanchez* (17), Leo Stolz* (19), James Thomas (33), Kyle Zajec** (38)
Forwards (3): Ethan Lochner** (43), Juan Sebastian Sanchez** (37), Chris Tsonis (45)
(Jersey number in parentheses)
*- Loan agreement from MLS
** - Academy player with amateur agreement
USL teams can add up to five academy players to their master rosters and these under-18 players are fully eligible for matches.
19 players made the trip from Rochester down to New Jersey for the season opener:
Goalkeepers (2): Brandon Miller, Adam Grinwis
Defenders (6): Pat McMahon, Onua Obasi, Sean Totsch, Julian Ringhof, Grant van de Casteele, Vassilis Apostolopoulos
Midfielders (7): Tony Walls, Johnny Mendoza, Mike Garzi, Marcos Ugarte, Alex Dixon, Kenardo Forbes, Christian Silva
Forwards (4): Colin Rolfe, Asani Samuels, Christian Volesky, Duba (Steevan Humberto Fortes dos Santos)
1.) Given the roster composition (for this game at least) what do you expect the breakdown of MLS/USL/academy guys in the 18-man squad to be?
"I'd expect all four MLS loanees to play some minutes. Castaño, Obekop, and Stolz should start. The first match should give an indication on how we're going to use our USL contracts," Aaron explained.
Lester agreed with that sentiment, " I'd imagine the majority of minutes will go to Academy and MLS players. Granted, if a USL contract player is performing, then they will get the minutes. However, the stated intent of this team is development, so I wouldn't be shocked to see all 5 Academy players in the 18."
2.) Any indication of the projected formation for NYRB II, considering Wolyniec only named 3 natural defenders in the roster? Any hints from from last year's NPSL team?
Aaron tackled the question first, "I'd expect them to still play a 4-2-3-1. Some of the midfielders can play as wing backs I'm sure, and this is a place to give guys shots in unnatural positions so they can learn them. It's what LA did with Robbie Rogers last year, and I would not be surprised that NYRB II would employ that philosophy with so many midfielders."
"Definitely a 4-2-3-1," Lester confirmed. "This team has the build for it (well, except for the defensive line). The guys who were on the U-23s last year should be interesting. Victor Manosalvas won NPSL player of the year and really has something to prove." In terms of the team's defense Lester noted, "Also, Tyler Adams can play center back even if it isn't his primary position. Either that or we're going to see something crazy like Obekop at center back, which will be awesome."
3.) The best nickname for this team?
"I like Baby Bulls. But my opinion is totally useless," Aaron claimed.
On a more serious note, Lester responded "NYRB II: Electric Bullgaloo."
The early afternoon kickoff gives American soccer fans a nice primer to Saturday's MLS action. Rochester Rhinos and NYRB II start their 2015 USL seasons at 2pm from Red Bull Arena.