On April 14, 2018, midfielder Chris Lema made his first professional appearance for New York Red Bulls II coming on in the 68th minute against the Tampa Bay Rowdies. Over two years later, Lema has become the all-time leader for appearances by a field player in club history.
Last Saturday against Hartford Athletic, Lema came on at halftime to make his 65th appearance for the club, which passed Jared Stroud for most all-time.
“It feels amazing and it’s an honor to hold this record for the club,” Lema said.
The Ridgefield, New Jersey native was selected 34th overall by FC Dallas in the 2018 MLS SuperDraft. After he signed with New York Red Bulls II, he came home to where he played growing up with Red Bulls Academy. Having familiarity with the organization, helped set him up for success.
“NYRB II has set me up for success through the constant guidance from the coaching staff. They helped me adapt to the Red Bulls style of play and helped me transition into the professional game,” Lema said.
Two years removed from his professional debut, Lema has been a part of many special moments in NYRB II history.
“My favorite moment with the club so far has to be beating FC Cincinnati in the Eastern Conference Semifinals in my first year with the club. The energy before, during, and after the game was something special,” Lema said.
Other than that moment, Lema has had many special moments himself. His second season in 2019 was a special one in general for the midfielder.
He became the all-time leader in games started and minutes played for the club, while earning USL Championship All-League Second Team honors, but the most special moment came on July 17, 2019.
Lema became the ninth player in USL Championship history to score four goals in one match, which he did against Atlanta United 2.
"I would like to thank the supporters for their constant support, especially during these difficult times,” Lema said. “We miss seeing you guys at the games, but we know you guys are always behind us. With your support, we will turn things around and secure a spot in the playoffs."