Old and New Faces Set to Tackle the 2024 Season for New York Red Bulls II


With preseason officially over and the season opening match for New York Red Bulls II being a day away, there is plenty to catch up on for the club heading into 2024. Whether it be from the returning players, new signings, or academy talent that will take the pitch this season, there are no shortage of storylines that are attached to the group as they get ready to tackle their second season in MLS NEXT Pro.

The Core Group

When comparing the 2024 season to 2023, the clear difference in roster composition can be found in the number of returning players from the year prior. Red Bulls II currently have nine players that are returning from last season, all of which played a crucial role in the club’s regular season success.

To start, the defensive line that posted the third least goals allowed in MLS NEXT Pro last season is virtually the same. In the central role, a mix of first and second team talent is expected. A player looking to take the next step in year two with the club is Colombian Juan Gutierrez. The 19-year-old will be joined by wing back Omar Valencia, who is now in year three with the club since being acquired on loan from Panamanian side C.D. Plaza Amador in 2021.  The left back participated in the entirety of the first team’s preseason training camp and recently received a short-term loan for their match against Houston Dynamo FC on March 2.

New York’s midfield will be home to many familiar faces as well, including 2023 standout Ibrahim Kasule. The Ugandan is coming off one of the greatest regular seasons in club history after tying the team’s record for goals in a season with 15. The MLS NEXT Pro ‘Best XI’ award recipient will be joined by Dylan Sullivan and Rafael Mosquera, who both will have integral jobs within the team's structure.

With a skilled defense and midfield, an area of the squad that cannot be overlooked is the attacking group. Names like Frank Ssebufu, Mohammed Sofo, and Tanner Rosborough immediately pop off the stat sheet. The potential within these young players will be a storyline throughout the year and lead one to believe that goals will come in bunches for this Red Bulls II side in 2024.


The “New” Guy

While there are plenty of returners from the 2023 MLS NEXT Pro season on the current roster, there is one recent signing that is far from new to the club, Steven Sserwadda. The midfielder, who hasn’t played a match since August 20 of 2022, is returning to Red Bulls II after suffering a season ending knee injury on April 7, 2023, while playing for the Ugandan National Team.

Sserwadda featured for New York Red Bulls II in the 2021 and 2022 USL Championship seasons before signing a first team contract on July 9, 2022. In his time with the second team, he logged two goals and one assist in 18 appearances over the course of those two seasons.

Due to his experience at the club, the Ugandan International has taken on the responsibility of being a leader within this current squad. Although he is a “new” signing, Sserwadda has proved that he can thrive within the team’s system and will be a mainstay for Head Coach Ibrahim Sekagya going forward.

The Young Bucks

In 2023, contributions that were made from the Red Bulls Academy group were crucial to the team’s success throughout the regular season and playoffs. Young players consistently answered the bell when called on and played meaningful minutes in just about every phase of the game.

No better example of stepping up in moments of need can be found with goalkeeper Alan Rutkowski. After starting goalkeeper A.J. Marcucci suffered a season ending hamstring injury in August of last season, the 16-year-old stepped right into the starting role and did not look back. Rutkowski posted two clean sheets and a 70% save percentage over eight appearances in Marcucci’s absence and provided a major sense of stability in net during both the regular season and playoffs. The keeper will look to continue that same success when given the opportunity in 2024.

Another player to keep an eye on from Red Bulls Academy who played significant minutes last season is defender Copeland Berkley. The right back appeared in 17 matches in 2023 and contributed greatly to the team’s overall defensive success. Expect Berkley to be called on when needed throughout the 2024 season.


With one season of MLS NEXT Pro play in the books for New York Red Bulls II, expect to see even more growth and development within the squad at MSU Soccer Park as they make their push for the league title.