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IN FOCUS: A look at the returning Red Bulls II players: Stefano Bonomo

On October 29, New York Red Bulls II announced that the club exercised the options of five players for the 2016 USL season: Stefano Bonomo, Devon Williams, Dan Metzger, Konrad Plewa and Rafael Diaz. This week, we’ll examine Stefano Bonomo and his 2015 season.

The New York Red Bulls drafted Stefano Bonomo in the second round (39th overall) of the 2015 MLS SuperDraft. The 6-foot-2 forward from the University of California was a decorated athlete who collected accolades such as All-PAC-12 First Team and PAC-12 All-Academic honorable mention.

He led the Golden Bears to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament as a junior, and reached the NCAA Sweet 16 as a senior. By the end of his college career, Bonomo finished with 22 goals and eight assists in 66 games at Cal.

Before eventually joining the Red Bulls, Bonomo trialed with various teams in Europe, keeping in contact with Red Bulls Head Coach Jesse Marsch.

“We kept in touch three or four times when I was out in Europe and my agent spoke with the club and kept on eye on its progress,” Bonomo said in an interview earlier this season. “Jesse is a great guy. He really had high hopes on me being here right away, and coming back here has been a great decision.”

Eventually the forward returned to the United States and began a trial with the Red Bulls. On July 29, 2015, he signed his first professional contract with New York Red Bulls II.

He made his USL regular season debut as a substitute in the 62nd minute on Aug. 2 against Saint Louis FC, and made his first start on Aug. 8 on the road versus Wilmington Hammerheads.

In the following game, Bonomo came off the bench and scored his first goal of the season. From that moment on, he claimed the starting job and racked up points quickly, tallying all three goals and two assists in the last six games of the season.

In the 2015 USL Playoffs, Bonomo started and played the full 120 minutes in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against Pittsburgh Riverhounds, a 4-2 win in extra time at Red Bull Arena. He recorded five shots in the club’s inaugural playoff game. In the Conference Semifinals, Bonomo started and played 80 minutes in a loss to the eventual 2015 USL Champion Rochester Rhinos.

Bonomo is set to return for the 2016 season with more to prove. After joining Red Bulls II in midseason, he is yet to experience a full professional season, but brings a versatile skillset to the NYRB II attack. With eight points in the final six games of last season, Bonomo aims to build on what he’s started in 2015.

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