Red Bulls Sign MLS 2018 Defender of the Year
The New York Red Bulls have signed United States Men's National Team defender Aaron Long to a multi-year MLS contract using Targeted Allocation Money
Long an integral piece of the Red Bulls' success last season, anchored a Red Bulls backline that allowed just 33 goals in 34 regular season games en route to the 2018 Supporters' Shield with league-record points (71) and wins (22), as well as appearances in the Eastern Conference Finals and Semifinals of the Concacaf Champions League.
Following a stellar 2018 season with multiple accolades, Long continued to cement himself as MLS' best defender with back-to-back USMNT caps during January camp. Long captained the USMNT squad to two clean sheets in international friendlies against Panama and Costa Rica. Long's first game with the captain's armband against Panama on Jan. 28 came after earning his first cap just three months prior in an international friendly against Peru.
"We are very excited to complete this signing and solidify Aaron's future with our club," said Red Bulls Sporting Director Denis Hamlett. "Aaron has been key to our success as a team the last two seasons, and his personal achievements and recognitions speak for themselves. This signing is great news for our club and is also a prime example of our philosophy on player development. Aaron has worked hard over the last three seasons with us, learning and developing into one of the brightest young American defenders. Our entire club is proud to share this moment with Aaron and his family."
Long is the club's first-ever MLS Defender of the Year in 2018. He started 31 of the 34 league matches, and saw time in all 22 of the Red Bulls' wins. Offensively, he tallied career-bests in both goals (3) and assists (2). The Oak Hills, California, native was named to his first MLS All-Star Game, starting and playing a game-high 62 minutes to help the MLS All-Stars tie Italian-side Juventus, 1-1.
"Aaron has been a major part of our team's success over the last two seasons," said Red Bulls Head Coach Chris Armas. "He solidified our back line in 2017 and helped us become the best defense in the league in 2018. Aaron has also grown into a leader within our group and has earned the respect of everyone here. We are thrilled to have the opportunity to continue working with him and watching him grow for our club and country."
Long joined the Red Bulls organization ahead of the 2016 season, where he was converted from midfielder to center back after signing with NYRB II, the club's USL affiliate. Long excelled in his new role, earning 2016 USL Defender of the Year honors, helping the squad win the USL regular season and USL Cup. Long was promoted to the first team ahead of the 2017 season and became an immediate starter in MLS.
"This club gave me the opportunity I always wanted, and I will be forever grateful for that,"Long said. "These coaches believed in me and allowed me to blossom into the player I am today. I will do everything I can to get silverware for this club."
Long and the Red Bulls will begin their 2019 Concacaf Champions League run against Atletico Pantoja in the Round of 16 on Wednesday at Felix Sanchez Stadium. Leg 1 of the SCCL Round of 16 is set for 8 p.m. ET with coverage on New York Red Bulls Radio in English. The two teams will return to Red Bull Arena for Leg 2 on Wednesday, Feb. 27 at 8 p.m. ET.
Date of Birth: Oct. 12, 1992
Birthplace: Oak Hills, Calif.
Hometown: Oak Hills, Calif.
Former club: Seattle Sounders 2