During the 2018 season, Aaron Long and Long Island native Tim Parker formed one of the top center back pairings in Major League Soccer.
Now, Long has signed a multi-year contract extension with the New York Red Bulls using Targeted Allocation Money. An integral part of the Red Bulls’ success this past season, he anchored a backline that allowed just 33 goals in 34 regular season games.
“Aaron has been key to our success as a team the last two seasons, and his personal achievements and recognitions speak for themselves,” said Denis Hamlett, Red Bulls Sporting Director. “Aaron has worked hard over the last three seasons with us, learning and developing into one of the brightest young American defenders.”
Named the 2018 MLS Defender of the Year, he started 31 of 34 league matches and played in all 22 Red Bulls wins. Offensively, he tallied career-bests in goals (3) and assists (2). The Oak Hills, Calif., native was also named to his first MLS All-Star Game. He started and played a game-high 62 minutes to help the MLS All-Stars tie Juventus, 1-1.
Long joined the Red Bulls ahead of the 2016 season, where he was converted from a midfielder to center back after signing with NYRB II, the club’s USL affiliate. He excelled in his new role, earning 2016 USL Defender of the Year honors, helping the squad win the USL regular season and USL Cup. He 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.”
“Aaron has been a major part of our team’s success over the past two seasons,” said Chris Armas, Red Bulls Head Coach. “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.”
With the national team, Long has become an integral part of the squad’s back line. During the recent January camp. he captained the USMNT to two clean sheets in international friendlies against Panama and Costa Rica. Long’s first game with the captain’s armband against Panama on Jan. 28 came after earning his first cap just three months prior in an international friendly against Peru.
His center back partner, Hicksville-native Parker, signed a contract extension in mid-December, which gives the Red Bulls a solid defensive pairing for years to come.