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New York Red Bulls 2018 outlook: new captain, again

The New York Red Bulls will need a new captain, again. After trading Dax McCarty to Chicago last season, assist-master Sacha Kljestan took ownership of the arm band. Now, he’s gone too. Who’s up next?

Head coach: Jesse Marsch

2017 finish: 14-12-8, 50 points; No.6 East.

Postseason: Lost to Toronto in conference semifinals.

Season recap

After squeaking into the playoffs, the New York Red Bulls made a scene. They emphatically beat the Chicago Fire in the Knockout Round of the playoffs before a heated series against eventual champion Toronto FC. New York delivered a home loss to the MLS Cup champs, but it wasn’t enough. The Red Bulls lost 2-2 on aggregate away goals, and ended the year feeling a bit gypped.

“A couple chances and we would be in the next round,” Red Bulls leading scorer Bradley Wright-Phillips said during a postgame interview. “A credit to the boys we had done everything we need to and in the end we didn’t get that chance.”

Homegrowns: With the recent signing of 17-year-old Ben Mines, the New York Red Bulls have signed eight homegrown players. Last year, the Red Bulls led MLS in league minutes from Homegrown players with 7,810. Two of those were midfielder Sean Davis, 24, and forward Alex Muyl, 22, who were tied for fourth on the team with four assists each. Muyl also came in fourth for goals scored with three.

2018 goals

Marsch said the club is all about youth development moving forward, a growing focus throughout the league. Last year, veterans such as Kljestan, Wright-Phillips and goalkeeper Luis Robles carried the team and helped fresh legs find their way. In 2018, some of those veterans will be gone to make room for more youth, such as 23-year-old Colombian forward Carlos Rivas and 20-year-old centerback Tommy Redding.

Opener: March 10 vs. Portland Timbers, 7 p.m.

Offseason moves

The biggest deal was sending Kljestan to Orlando City. The Red Bulls need to fill his productivity in the midfield, and that’s a big ask. Kljestan has led the the league in assists the past two seasons with 17 in 2017 and 20 in 2016.

Signings – F Stefano Bonomo and M Florian Valot (from NYRB II); D Kevin Politz (homegrown); M Ben Mines (homegrown).

Trades – Traded M Sacha Kljestan and $150,000 of allocation money to Orlando City for D Tommy Redding and F Carlos Rivas.

Re-signed – M Vincent Bezecourt.

Contract option declined – D Sal Zizzo; D Gideon Baah; M Mike Grella (later selected by Colorado in stage 1 of MLS re-entry draft and traded to Columbus); M Dilly Duka; M Dan Metzger; M Arun Basuljevic; M Vincent Bezecourt; M Zeiko Lewis; F Brandon Allen; F Gonzalo Veron (later selected by D.C. United in stage 2 of MLS re-entry draft).

Contract expired – D Damien Perrinelle

Other – D Michael Amir Murillo (exercised contract option for permanent transfer after loan).

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