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New York Red Bulls’ Aaron Long: ‘I’ve removed myself’ from transfer talks

Aaron Long said his focus is on playing for the New York Red Bulls while his agent blasts the team for what he believes is overvaluing the defender

Jul 14, 2019; Harrison, NJ, USA; New York Red Bulls midfielder Aaron Long (33) goes up for header on a corner kick during the first half against the New York City FC at Red Bull Arena. (Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports)

HARRISON, N.J. — While his agent made noise on Twitter and in the news, New York Red Bulls defender Aaron Long remained focused during a 2-1 win over Toronto FC Saturday night at Red Bull Arena. After the match, he doubled down on his stance on the overseas transfer talk.

“I saw the Tweet. It’s one of those things that, like I said, I’m not involved in and I’ve removed myself from that to just focus on the game, tonight and football in general,” Long told Pro Soccer USA after the match. “I don’t think it involves me as a player. So it’s between those parties: between Red Bulls, whatever other team and my agent. So you know, those guys have all the say and I can’t really comment on it because I don’t really know what’s going on.”

The aforementioned tweet was from Shaun Higgins, who heads an agency called PRO Football Consultants and represents Long. Higgins claimed in the Tweet that the Red Bulls put a $15 million value on the 27-year-old Long, who won MLS Defender of the Year in 2018.

According to ESPN, the latest offer for Long was $4 million and came from France. Another offer from England was less than $3 million, as Pro Soccer USA first reported last week.

“They told Aaron yesterday that he was worth $15 million, which is ridiculous,” Higgins told ESPN. “[The Red Bulls] say they’re not going to sell Aaron unless they get $15 million. They don’t think Aaron is good enough for RB Leipzig or Red Bull Salzburg. But the Red Bulls are saying even though he’ll be 27 years old [in October], if a team really wants Aaron, they’ll come in for him and that his value is similar to defenders in the Premier League.”

Long signed a new multiyear deal with New York that pays him $800,000 after making $73,125 a year ago. Major League Soccer’s secondary transfer window closes Aug. 7.

“It’s a dream to go play in that league. But again, I have no power in making that move,” Long said. “It’s between two clubs and my agent. So I’m not going to set my hopes on that or anything. I’m just going to play soccer and whatever happens happens. But I’m just focused on the next game.”

The Buck stops here

Just hours after the Red Bulls announced he signed a first team contract, Rece Buckmaster was in the starting XI. He’s trained with the first team, was loaned from Red Bulls II for the U.S. Open Cup loss against the New England Revolution, but this was different.

It’s just a dream come true,” Buckmaster said. “I mean, it’s something I always looked forward to. I just tried my hardest on everything just to play for an MLS team and I got my opportunity and I’m so thankful for the Red Bulls and just everybody on the team.”

Buckmaster impressed on his debut, a 90-minute stint that ended with a clean sheet victory. He had 49 touches and 22 passes, completing 81.8 percent of his passes and had three tackles.

“He came out, he was aggressive, he was doing what the coach knows he can do,” Kemar Lawrence said. “He was doing what we see in training. And he wasn’t worried, he was fearless and it kind of reminded me of myself when I played my first game against DC.”

The 32nd overall selection in the 2019 MLS SuperDraft, Buckmaster made 17 appearances, including 15 starts for Red Bulls II in the USL Championship. He follows in the footsteps of Aaron Long, Florian Valot, Vincent Bezecourt, Tom Barlow and Brian White to make the jump from Red Bulls II to the first team.

“He lives on the edge on the soccer field,” Red Bulls coach Chris Armas said. “It’s not scared, but man, he doesn’t want to make that mistake. So it’s a terrible place to live, but it’s a great place to live and I know it. I know it well. You can see that he was a little nervous to start, but he grew into the game. He had such a solid game.”

Keeping it clean

The Red Bulls have conceded 14 goals in the last six games and have already surpassed last year’s total goals against. The embattled defense, though, stepped up in a big way Saturday with the sixth clean sheet of the year and first at Red Bull Arena since June 1.

Luis Robles, who made three saves, earned his 69th career shutout and moved into sixth all-time in league history with his 111th MLS win, surpassing former Revolution and Galaxy goalkeeper Matt Reis.

“What we were most happy about is that we saw players look like us back there,” Armas said. “Rece has a great game. Kemar Lawrence looked like himself — aggressive, recovery, the whole bit. … Luis Robles, he’s an All-Star. Again, doesn’t get the accolades, but he shows up in a big way.

“And the center backs … for me, those guys — aggressive stepping out, protecting channel, releasing, the connections, moving the line, helping us have a back line that’s four guys thinking like one. For me, that’s the most important thing that I saw in the back line.”

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