For the third time in four seasons, the New York Red Bulls will be in search of a new captain.
Luis Robles, who wore the armband for the last two years, had his option declined by the club and it appears the 35-year-old’s eight-year run as the Red Bulls’ goalkeeper has come to an end.
“The entire organization would like to thank Luis for his contributions to the club over the last eight seasons,” Red Bulls sporting director Denis Hamlett said in a statement Thursday. “During his tenure, Luis was an important part of the team and the organization, leading our efforts on and off the field. Luis’ play and work ethic speak for themselves when you look at the individual and team success during his time. These decisions are never easy and we wish Luis and his family the best in the next stage of his career.”
Robles set an MLS record with 183 consecutive complete games played and earned MLS Goalkeeper of the Year honors in 2015. He is sixth all-time in league history with 114 wins and eighth in clean sheets with 72.
He is eligible for MLS free agency.
At the club’s season-ending media availability last month, Robles was pensive about his future.
“I still just personally feel like there’s a lot that I can contribute as a player, whether it’s here or somewhere else,” said Robles, who made $490,000 in 2019, according to salaries released by the MLS Players Association. “But for me, my ambition is always to help this organization be the best that they can be and part of that is winning MLS Cup, winning trophies, but also just in the community, being a beacon of light, of hope in the community.”
Star forward Bradley Wright-Phillips, a two-time Golden Boot winner, is out of contract and it doesn’t appear like the 34-year-old will return to a club he scored 126 goals for in seven seasons.
He endured a nightmarish 2019 in which he was limited to just nine starts. Wright-Phillips had two goals and four assists while being hampered with a groin injury that just never went away.
“Brad will go down as one of the best forwards in MLS history, and certainly a major part of the success of this club since he arrived in 2013,” said Hamlett. “Brad had an incredible run with this club and will be remembered here as a great player, teammate, and person, and we thank him for all that he has accomplished and helped the club accomplish. This is another decision we do not take lightly and we wish Brad and his family all the best.”
The two were linchpins of a group that won three Supporters’ Shield titles and made the playoffs in each of the seven years they were teammates. The club, during that time, also reached a U.S. Open Cup final and the semifinals of the Concacaf Champions League.
The Red Bulls also declined options on midfielders Vincent Bezecourt, Marcus Epps and Derrick Etienne Jr., as well as Jean-Christophe Koffi and goalkeeper Evan Louro, while midfielder Josh Sims returned to Southampton at the completion of his short loan stint.
The Red Bulls exercised options on goalkeeper Ryan Meara, defenders Rece Buckmaster, Kyle Duncan, Michael Amir Murillo, Sean Nealis and Amro Tarek, midfielders Cristian Casseres Jr. and Florian Valot and forwards Tom Barlow and Brian White.
Those 10 players join 11 already under contract bringing the Red Bulls current roster to 21 players.
Goalkeepers: Ryan Meara
Defenders: Rece Buckmaster, Kyle Duncan, Kemar Lawrence, Aaron Long, Michael Amir Murillo, Sean Nealis, Tim Parker and Amro Tarek
Midfielders: Cristian Casseres Jr., Sean Davis, Omir Fernandez, Kaku, Ben Mines, Alex Muyl, Danny Royer, Marc Rzatkowski, Florian Valot
Forwards: Tom Barlow, Mathias Jørgensen, Brian White