Jared Stroud and Chris Lema celebrate a goal last season. (Photo courtesy of the Red Bulls)
HARRISON, N.J. – The Red Bulls have signed midfielders Jared Stroud and Chris Lema to MLS contracts, the club announced on Tuesday.
The New Jersey natives were added to the first team roster after establishing their places in the NYRB II record books last season.
“On behalf of everyone at the club I’d like to welcome Jared and Chris to the first team,” Red Bulls sporting director Denis Hamlett said. “Over the last several seasons we have established a strong pathway for talented players to move up and contribute at the MLS level. We are proud to have helped Jared and Chris take this next step in their career.”
Stroud, 23, had two strong seasons with NYRB II with last season ending as an all-league honoree. In 2019, he recorded 15 goals and nine assists to earn USL Championship all-league first team honors, and was fourth in all of USL in chances created with 92. The Chester, N.J. native accrued 22 goals, 20 assists, 63 games played, 51 matches started in 4,748 minutes played over two seasons with NYRB II. Stroud became the first player in NYRB II history to record 20 goals and 20 assists.
“Jared is an attacker that has committed to our philosophy and has excelled each year,” Red Bulls head coach Chris Armas said. “He has shown that he can be dangerous in the final third and also score goals consistently. As a staff we look forward to helping him continue his development at the MLS level.”
The four-year letter winner at Colgate became NYRB II’s all-time assist leader with 20 assists and finished second in goals scored (22), games played (63), third in games started (51) and fourth in minutes played (4,748). He was just the third player in NYRB II history to garner first team all-league honors.
“I’m incredibly excited to sign an MLS contract with the team that I grew up supporting as a kid,” Stroud said. “I’m grateful for this opportunity and I look forward to helping the team achieve its goals next year. I want to thank my family, teammates, and friends for helping me get to this point because I wouldn’t be here without them. Also, I want to thank the Red Bulls II fans, John [Wolyneic], Ibra [Sekagya], Vadim [Kirillov], Adam [Rotchstein], Matt [McKelvey], and Zach [Lahey] for providing me with a platform to reach the first team. I look forward to starting the season strong next year and I’m excited to begin my third preseason with the club in the coming months.”
Lema, a Ridgefield, N.J. native was named to the USL Championship All-League second team in 2019, leading the league in chances created with 94 along with four goals and one assist in 33 games played.
“Chris is a talented player who continues to evolve his game,” Armas said. “He showed his quality last year, leading the USL in chances created and having an impact on games with and without the ball. We love Chris’ attitude and are looking forward to working with him on a regular basis. It’s great for the organization to continue to find, develop and give opportunities to talented young players.”
Lema became the all-time leader in career games started (56) and minutes played (5,008) for Red Bulls II. For the 2019 season he finished fourth in goals scored (5), third in assists (6), and second in minutes played (2,837) for the club. Lema featured in the Under-15 and U-17 United States men’s mational team while a part of the Red Bulls Academy.
“It’s an honor to be able to sign an MLS contract with my childhood club,” Lema said. “This is where I want to be and where I want to succeed. I’m excited to get started and give back to the club.”