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New York Red Bulls sign defender Aaron Long to multi-year deal

Jun 23, 2018; Harrison, NJ, USA; New York Red Bulls defender Aaron Long (33) controls the ball against FC Dallas during the first half at Red Bull Arena. (Vincent Carchietta/USA TODAY Sports)

The New York Red Bulls have re-signed Aaron Long, inking the star center back to a multi-year deal, the club announced on Monday.

According to the New York Post, which reported the news first, it is a three-year contract. The club used Targeted Allocation Money to secure the deal.

“We are very excited to complete this signing and solidify Aaron’s future with our club,” Red Bulls sporting director Denis Hamlett said in a statement. “Aaron has been key to our success as a team the last two seasons, and his personal achievements and recognitions speak for themselves. This signing is great news for our club and is also a prime example of our philosophy on player development. Aaron has worked hard over the last three seasons with us, learning and developing into one of the brightest young American defenders. Our entire club is proud to share this moment with Aaron and his family.”

The 26-year-old has enjoyed a meteoric rise from Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders castaway to MLS All-Star and wearing the captain’s armband for the U.S. national team in recent friendlies against Panama and Costa Rica.

Long is coming off a breakout season with the Red Bulls, partnering centrally with Tim Parker on a defense that conceded a league-low 33 goals in 34 games. He was named the MLS Defender of the Year and the Red Bulls set a record with 71 regular-season points en route to winning a third Supporters’ Shield.

“Aaron has been a major part of our team’s success over the last two seasons,” Red Bulls coach Chris Armas said. “He solidified our back line in 2017 and helped us become the best defense in the league in 2018. Aaron has also grown into a leader within our group and has earned the respect of everyone here. We are thrilled to have the opportunity to continue working with him and watching him grow for our club and country.”

Long was selected by the Timbers in the second round of the 2014 MLS SuperDraft, but didn’t make an appearance and was released that July. The Sounders picked him up in 2015 and he spent the season with the club’s USL affiliate.

In 2016, Long went on trial with the Red Bulls and was named the USL Defender of the Year in his time with Red Bulls II.

Long has been a stalwart in defense for the last two years, starting 61 of the 65 regular season games he appeared in. He also contributed offensively with three goals and two assists in 2017.

Interests emerged overseas, specifically from Germany, for Long, who was also named an MLS Best XI. But the Red Bulls swooped in and have now secured the services of Kemar Lawrence, Parker and Long — three of their regular four starting defenders — for the foreseeable future.

“This club gave me the opportunity I always wanted, and I will be forever grateful for that,” Long said. “These coaches believed in me and allowed me to blossom into the player I am today. I will do everything I can to get silverware for this club.”

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