HARRISON N.J. – Aaron Long won’t be going anywhere for a while, if the Red Bulls have any say.
The Red Bulls announced Monday they signed U.S. international defender Aaron Long to a multi-year Major League Soccer contract using Targeted Allocation Money.
The length and details of Long’s contract were not immediately known.
Long was an integral piece of the Red Bulls’ success last season, anchoring a backline that allowed 33 goals in 34 regular-season games en route to the Supporters’ Shield with league-record points (71) and wins (22), as well as appearances in the Eastern Conference final and Concacaf Champions League semifinals.
The 26-year-old center back cemented himself as MLS’ best defender with back-to-back USMNT caps during January camp. Long captained the U.S. to two clean sheets in friendlies against Panama and Costa Rica. Long’s first game with the captain’s armband against Panama Jan. 28 came after earning his first cap just three months prior in an international friendly against Peru.
“We are very excited to complete this signing and solidify Aaron’s future with our club,” Red Bulls sporting director Denis Hamlett said. “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.”
Long became the franchise’s first MLS defender of the year in 2018. He started 31 of the 34 league matches, and saw time in all 22 of the Red Bulls’ wins. He tallied career-bests in goals (3) and assists (2). The Oak Hills, Calif. native was named to his first MLS all-Star game, starting and playing a game-high 62 minutes to help the MLS all-stars tie Juventus, 1-1.
“Aaron has been a major part of our team’s success over the last two seasons,” Red Bulls head 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 joined the Red Bulls organization ahead of the 2016 season, where he was converted from midfielder to center back after signing with Red Bull II, the club’s United Soccer League affiliate. Long excelled in his new role, earning 2016 USL defender of the year honors, helping the squad win the USL regular season and USL Cup. Long was promoted to the first team ahead of the 2017 season and became an immediate starter in MLS.
“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.”
Long and the Red Bulls will begin their CCL run against Atletico Pantoja in the Round of 16 Wednesday at Felix Sanchez Stadium. Leg 1 of the CCL Round of 16 is set for 8 p.m. ET with coverage on New York Red Bulls Radio in English. The two teams will return to Red Bull Arena for Leg 2 Wednesday, Feb. 27 at 8 p.m. ET.