The New York Red Bulls went into the first two rounds of the MLS SuperDraft, pres. by Adidas, with just one pick on the docket. They ended the day with four new players.
Sporting Director Denis Hamlett made two separate deals to land three additional picks, selecting two defenders and two attacking players – who will both likely transition to wingback roles.
“Busy day. Busy day,” Hamlett said following the first half of the SuperDraft. “One that we feel extremely excited about and the players we were able to get today. A lot of the credit goes to all of the work our scouting team and coaching staff have put in. It’s not just this weekend, but it’s for all the hard work done over the course of the year.
The Red Bulls traded up to select Roy Boateng, a four-year letterman at UC Davis, started 81 of the 84 possible matches for the Aggies in four seasons.
“He’s an old-school defender. He loves to defend,” Hamlett said. “He has physical attributes that we think will fit well with us in terms of a center back and the way we like to play.”
The Rohnert Park, California, native was named a two-time All-Far West Region selection by United Soccer Coaches and the reigning two-time Big West Defensive Player of the Year, was the highest ranked Big West player among the top 100 upperclassmen in the nation at No. 53 in 2018.
- WATCH: Welcome, Roy Boateng
Hamlett said the staff was worried he was going to be selected, which led to the deal to move up in the order to nab him.
Janos Loebe, a German-born Fordham University product, will start to move from forward to attacking wingback, a key position on the field for New York.
“Even though he’s played as an attacking player, we felt that having him at our combine and having some discussions as potentially playing as a wingback, that’s something we know he will embrace at the next level to see himself have an opportunity to become a pro,” Hamlett said.”
Loebe had a decorated career for Fordham in his four years as he was named the Atlantic-10 Offensive Player of the Year twice and the A-10 Rookie of the Year. The Kierspe, Germany, native, recorded 26 goals and 31 assists in 79 matches played.
- WATCH: Welcome, Janos Loebe
“He’s got good athletic attributes that fit well with us, but more importantly, he’s got the good soccer brain,” the Sporting Director said. “In the attacking part of the field, he knows how to score goals, he knows how to set up goals. Those qualities will help him at the next level.”
With the first pick of the second round, another pick that the Red Bulls did not have coming into draft day, New York picked up another local university product: Sean Nealis out of Hofstra University, a centerback.
Nealis was named the 2018 Colonial Athletic Association Defensive Player of the Year to cap off four years at Hofstra. The Massapequa, New York, native, was Hofstra’s team captain in 2018 and started 69 matches in four seasons for the Pride.
“We put a lot of demand on our center backs in the type of fires we need to put out,” Hamlett said. “For us to get two players at that position was critical. We’re excited that we’re able to … get him.”
With the team’s final pick of the day, as part of a deal with the Chicago Fire, the Red Bulls selected Rece Buckmaster, a future wingback out of Indiana University.
“He’s another guy that we watched and he just grew on us from the combine in terms of his alertness, the way he plays the position,” Hamlett said.
- WATCH: Welcome, Rece Buckmaster
Buckmaster, who is a four-year letterman for the Hoosiers, appeared in all 70 matches over the last three seasons for Indiana’s midfield. The 2018 Second-Team All-Big Ten midfielder led Indiana to back-to-back National Championship appearances. Buckmaster recorded five goals and 12 assists in 82 matches played.
“We made a move to move up because we felt that without having a second-round pick, we probably weren’t going to get him in the third round,” he said. “We needed to make this move to make sure we got him.”
“It’s $100,000 in allocation money,” Hamlett said of his two deals on the day. “To come away with four players that have the potential to be guys on our team for many years, we may look back on it and say ‘That was probably the best $100,000 we’ve ever spent.’”
New York will kick off preseason on Tuesday, with players participating in training before the team heads to Florida to start sessions and scrimmages.
“We drafted these guys to come in here, compete and make our first team,” Hamlett said. “We feel like everyone belongs, everyone has an opportunity and it’s up to you to show how bad you want it and how much you’re willing to work for it. That’s the internal competition that will drive these players and make the coaching decisions very difficult.”
With four college players being added in one day, the job is not yet done for Hamlett and the Red Bulls before heading into Concacaf Champions League play, U.S. Open Cup and an MLS season.
“We’re still trying to get a few more pieces to bring into camp,” Hamlett said. “Hopefully they can go out there and compete for the coaching staff and we can make the decisions in preseason. We are hungry and we are motivated to continue on this journey to make sure the way the season ended in 2018 is not the same ending in 2019.”