(Red Bull Arena – Photo by Jason Schott)
It’s been a busy week for the Red Bulls, as they learned their opponent in the CONCACAF Champions League, signed forward Stefano Bonomo and let go of fan favorite Mike Grella.
Full reports are below:
CONCACAF Champions League
The Red Bulls will face Club Deportivo Olimpia from Honduras in the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League Round of 16, as determined by a live draw on Monday night in Miami.
The Red Bulls will travel to Tegucigalpa, Francisco Morazán for the first leg before hosting at Red Bull Arena.
Club Deportivo Olimpia was the regular season leaders of both the Clausura and Apertura in 2016-17. The Honduran side won the Clausura back in 2015-16 but failed to replicate that success in 2016-17 after getting ousted in the playoffs of both the Clausura and Apertura. Olimpia are CONCACAF Champions League veterans. The side won the tournament back in 1972 and 1988, while they also made an appearance in the tournament last year only to be eliminated in the group stage. Also, the Honduran powerhouse won the inaugural 2017 CONCACAF League last year to earn themselves a spot in the 2018 Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League.
“The New York Red Bulls are proud to represent Major League Soccer in the CONCACAF Champions League once again, and we look forward to an exciting and competitive series against Club Deportivo Olimpia,” New York Red Bulls Sporting Director Denis Hamlett said. “I know Jesse and our staff will have our team ready to compete, and we know our fans will be ready for the home leg at Red Bull Arena.”
The 2018 edition of the tournament features a new format, with MLS and Liga MX teams advancing directly to the two-legged knockout round stages.
New York will be competing in CONCACAF Champions League for the fourth time in club history. The Red Bulls have accrued an overall record of 3-3-6 and gone as far as the CCL Quarterfinals in 2017. New York advanced to the quarterfinals for the first time in club history after defeating both Alianza Futbol Club and Antigua Guatemala Futbol Club in the Group Stage of the tournament.
Red Bulls goalkeepers Ryan Meara and Luis Robles both have extensive experience in the tournament. Meara owns a 2-2-1 mark and three shutouts, while Robles is 1-1-3 and has two cleansheets in CCL matches. As a club, New York has tallied 12 total goals in the CCL matches. Ten different Red Bulls have scored in this competition with Sacha Kljestan owning the team lead of two goals.
Red Bulls Sign Bonomo:
The Red Bulls have signed forward Stefano Bonomo to an MLS contract.
Bonomo was selected by the Red Bulls in the second round of the 2015 MLS SuperDraft and has played three seasons with New York Red Bulls II, the club’s USL affiliate. He becomes the fifth NYRB II signee to be promoted to the first team.
“We are happy to welcome Bonomo to the first team,” said Red Bulls Sporting Director Denis Hamlett. “He has made the most of his time in USL to develop his skills and integrate himself into our style of play. We are always pleased to promote players that have worked hard and earned opportunities. This signing is a credit to Stefano, John Wolyniec, and the entire USL coaching staff.”
Bonomo, a Hillsborough, California native, has played with New York Red Bulls II since their inception in 2015, accruing 53 games played, 21 goals, seven assists and 3,455 minutes played. The California forward had his best offensive season this past year, recording 13 goals and two assists in just 16 games played. Bonomo helped Red Bulls II capture the Eastern Conference title, the USL Shield and the USL Cup in 2016.
“We knew we had a good player in Stefano when we drafted him in 2015,” said Red Bulls Head Coach Jesse Marsch. “He’s earned this chance with his play and with his attitude. He is a good attacking player and can score in a variety of ways. If he continues to work the way he has, he will continue to better himself and our team every day.”
Bonomo was four-year standout at the University of California, collecting numerous accolades as a Golden Bear such as All-PAC-12 honorable mention and PAC-12 All-Academic honorable mention as a sophomore, and All-PAC-12 First Team his senior year. He was called up to the United States U-18 National Team training camps in February and April 2011. Bonomo holds dual citizenship in the United States and Italy.
“First of all, I’d like to thank the first team coaching staff for the belief they’ve had in me ever since I joined the club three seasons ago, I am very grateful,” said Bonomo. “The excitement and emotions I’ve had since I found out they wanted to promote me to the first team are feelings I’ve never experienced before.”
“I know this is another step forward in my career but there is still a lot of work to be done. I’m enthusiastic and eager for the upcoming season and will put my head down and prepare as best as possible to help the team succeed in any way I can.”
Red Bulls Say Goodbye to Grella:
Mike Grella was selected by the Colorado Rapids in Stage One of the MLS Re-entry draft on Friday afternoon. Colorado then traded Grella to Columbus Crew SC in exchange for a second-round pick in the 2019 MLS SuperDraft.
The Glen Cove, New York native played 73 MLS games for the Red Bulls, scoring 16 goals and adding 13 assists. He made eight appearances in 2017 before having knee surgery that ended his season.
“On behalf of everyone at the New York Red Bulls, I’d like to thank Mike for his service to the club,” said Red Bulls Sporting Director Denis Hamlett. “He had many great moments here and was an excellent guy in our locker room. We wish Mike and his family all the best as he continues his career.”
Grella had a number of noteworthy accomplishments with New York, including scoring the club’s 1,000th goal across all competitions against Columbus Crew SC in March of 2015. Later that season, Grella scored the fastest goal in MLS History, finding the back of the net against Philadelphia just seven seconds into a match at Red Bull Arena in October. Grella also represented the club in the MLS Cup Playoffs, CONCACAF Champions League and the U.S. Open Cup.
“Mike is a fierce competitor and the type of guy who gives everything for his teammates,” said Red Bulls Head Coach Jesse Marsch. “He played a big role for us the past few years and helped establish who we are as a team. I’m grateful to have had Mike as a player and wish him and his family nothing but the best.”