The MLS Superdraft will begin this Friday, as the league’s 22 teams look to add talent and depth to their rosters from the college ranks and abroad. As one of the original ten franchises, the New York Red Bulls are certainly no strangers to the process.
New York Red Bulls All-Time Top Five Draft Picks
But like in any of the player drafts held in major North American sports league, the success of each year’s selections can vary.
The club has even had draft picks that didn’t exist, as Juninho and Tulio never did manage to suit up for the Metrostars ahead of their inaugural season.
We take a look at the times New York got it right with the five best selections in Red Bulls history.
5) Michael Bradley (2004)
American international midfielder Michael Bradley was drafted by the Metrostars in 2004 at the age of sixteen. It may have seemed like a bit of nepotism at the time with his father Bob as head coach, but the youngster was able to show flashes of what was to come during his short stay in New York.
After injuries kept him out of action during his rookie year, the 2005 season saw Bradley come into his own. His goal in the final match of the year against Chivas USA clinched a playoff spot.
Soon after the campaign ended, Bradley was sold to SC Heerenveen of the Netherlands and he began his European journey.
Now leading Toronto FC, Michael Bradley’s entry into professional soccer with the Metrostars helped to begin a very successful career and his first professional goal earned the club a postseason berth.
4) Tim Ream (2010)
Considering he was a second-round selection and the quality that he brought to the Red Bulls’ defense, Tim Ream was arguably one of New York’s best draft picks. Currently with Fulham in the English Championship, the St. Louis native continues to evolve and improve as a player.
Able to play left-back and in central defense, Ream’s versatility was a constant positive. His rookie season brought Defender of the Year honors and attention from overseas. Upon the completion of the 2011 MLS season, Ream was sold to Bolton Wanderers for a fee of over $3 million.
Similar to that of Bradley, Tim Ream’s stay in New York was short but full of positives. His contributions along the back-line helped to take the club from the bottom of the Eastern Conference in 2009 to the number one seed in 2010.
3) Giovanni Savarese (1996)
The MLS SuperDraft has taken many forms over the year, and this choice may technically be a stretch. Taken in the ninth round of the Inaugural Player Draft, forward Giovanni Savarese set the standard for the Metrostars from the very first day.
The Venezuelan international brought a fire and intensity to the field that was often overwhelming for the opposition. He left the Metrostars after three seasons, scoring 44 goals along the way. Savarese sits fifth on the club’s all-time leading scoring chart.
Currently the head coach of the New York Cosmos in NASL, Giovanni Savarese continues to impact the game in New York even now.
2) Jozy Altidore (2006)
Few young players have made an impact in MLS as quickly and as spectacularly as Jozy Altidore. At only 16 years of age, the New Jersey native burst onto the scene in a big way.
With power and unstoppable pace, Altidore was able to score goals with excellent consistency. Once paired with Juan Pablo Angel in his second season, the Red Bulls attack began to truly flourish. His brace in a 5-4 victory over the Los Angeles Galaxy was a memorable moment and nothing short of impressive.
His $10 million transfer to Villarreal in the summer of 2008 was an astounding transaction for both the club and the league.
1) Mike Petke (1998)
The Metrostars’ first round selection in the 1998 draft went on to become a club legend. A tough and determined defender, Mike Petke’s influence on New York was felt for over a decade.
Immediately injecting a hard-working approach to the back-line, Petke helped to lead the team to a fantastic 2000 season. His loyalty to his teammates always stood out, and a return to the Red Bulls at the end of his playing career brought valuable experience to the side.
After working as an assistant under manager Hans Backe, Petke became head coach and led the Red Bulls to their first Supporters’ Shield in 2013. His firing after the 2014 season was not a popular choice, but Petke’s work laid the foundation for the consistent squad fans see today.
The 2017 MLS Superdraft presents many options for the New York Red Bulls, and they will certainly hope that the selections can produce success in the future.