DAVENPORT, Fla. – Only gone for but a season, Ryan Meara has noticed plenty of changes since he was last with the New York Red Bulls.
After spending a year with crosstown rivals New York City FC, Meara has returned to the other side of the Hudson River, and it hasn’t exactly been status quo around the club he once again calls home.
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The front office and coaching changes, of course, are the most evident differences from his previous tenure with the club. Then there is New York’s signature style of play, the high press that has come to define the team and is now an inherent part of their identity.
Now entering his sixth year in Major League Soccer, the Yonkers native finds himself considered amongst the veteran core of the group, a fact that the 25-year-old still finds a bit startling, if not amusing.
“It’s crazy to think that I’m part of the older group now,” the goalkeeper said with a laugh. “It doesn’t feel like that long ago when I was just getting started.”
And while some elements have stayed the same—familiar faces like Luis Robles, Dax McCarty, Lloyd Sam and others still remain—Meara was pleasantly surprised with the team’s new crop of Homegrown players.
“They’re used to playing with each other since they were probably U-14,” Meara told NewYorkRedBulls.com. “They know each other’s tendencies and how they like to play, and it definitely comes across when you see it out on the field.”
A rookie during the 2012 season, Meara saw many of these youngsters rising through the ranks at the youth levels of the academy. And just four years later, many of those same faces have made their way to the top of the pyramid.
“I remember watching these guys a few years back,” he said. “They’d get called up from the academy every now and then when we needed bodies for a reserve game or for a training session. They weren’t even in college yet, and now those same guys are with the first team. It’s definitely a great sign for the future of this club.”