HARRISON, N.J. – The Red Bulls have signed Venezuelan midfielder Cristian Cásseres Jr. to a new multi-year Major League Soccer contract, the club announced on Friday.

Cásseres Jr. is set to begin his third season with the club after being named the Red Bulls’ defensive player of the year in 2019.

“We are very pleased to reach agreement with Cristian on a new contract,” Red Bulls sporting director Denis Hamlett said. “Cristian showed his importance to our team last season and we look forward to his continued growth and success this year and beyond.”

Cásseres Jr, 20, made a strong impression with the first team in 2019 in the central midfield. The Venezuelan midfielder recorded 34 tackles won, 29 interceptions, 165 recoveries and finished 34th amongst MLS outfield players in MLS with 170 duels won, per Opta.

He recorded three goals and four assists in 1,801 minutes over 23 matches.

“I’m very happy to renew my contract with the New York Red Bulls, with this beautiful family that has been created by everyone that’s part of this team,” Cásseres Jr. said. “I’m glad to continue here with the team and will continue to give my all for them.”

Cásseres Jr. also has quickly risen with the Venezuelan youth national team. He has accrued 26 appearances, one goal and two assists in 2,061 minutes since he began with the Under-17 squad. Cásseres Jr. most recently started all four matches in the 2020 CONEMBOL Pre-Olympic Tournament. His game-winning assist against Ecuador helped the Venezuelan U-23s earn their only victory in the group stage.

“Cristian took a big step forward last season, and I’m happy he is rewarded with a new contract,” Red Bulls head coach Chris Armas said. “Cristian has all the tools, physically and mentally, to continue to grow into an excellent player. He is fearless on the field and his worth ethic and determination to get better every day will continue to serve him and our club well.”

Cásseres Jr and the Red Bulls continue their 2020 preseason in Tucson, Arizona with one more match in the Visit Tucson Sun Cup at Kino Sports Complex Saturday.

The Red Bulls return home next week to open the 2020 MLS season against FC Cincinnati on March 1 at Red Bull Arena.