The New York Red Bulls were a bit unsure of what they could possibly get out of their batch of young trialists when preseason started in January, but three players impressed enough to earn contracts with the club.
The Red Bulls announced Friday morning that they have signed young Cameroon international Ambroise Oyongo as well as rookies Chris Duvall and Eric Stevenson. Duvall and Stevenson were both selected by New York in the second round of the 2014 MLS SuperDraft.
“We are pleased to sign all three players,” Red Bulls sporting director Andy Roxburgh said in a statement. “They all showed in preseason that they have potential and we look forward to their contributions to the team in the coming season.”
Oyongo, 22, signed with the Red Bulls after previously playing for Coton Sport FC in Cameroon since 2010. Oyongo, who primarily plays left back, has appeared at the senior and youth international level for Cameroon. With Cotonsport FC, Oyongo won three Cameroon Premiere Division titles in 2010, 2011, and 2013 and the Cameroon Cup in 2011. Oyongo appeared in four preseason games.
"Oyongo is sort of like Marius [Obekop] last year," said Petke. "He's got such raw talent, he's played with the youth national teams over in Cameroon. He's a bit older than Marius when he got here, so he's got that little bit of extra experience and he gives us a very good attacking option out of the left back position.
"With Roy [Miller] being gone for the World Cup most likely and international dates, and we also obviously have Bobby [Convey] that can play there as well, but we have a young player that we could hopefully develop and can get up to tune quickly with our tactics."
The Red Bulls selected Duvall, 22, from Wake Forest University with the 22nd overall pick of the 2014 SuperDraft. He was at Wake for four seasons and mainly featured as a right back, playing in 14 games and recording three assists in 2013. In 2012, Duvall played more minutes than any other player on the Wake Forest roster, recording 1,637 minutes on the field with one goal and three assists. In preseason play with the Red Bulls, the Georgia native appeared in four games, including one start against Orlando City SC.
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"He's a player as a right back that loves to get forward, and he also has that defensive ability in him," said Petke. "When he receives the ball out of back – we've seen a lot in preseason – his first instinct is to go forward and that to me is key with how we want to play."
Stevenson, 23, was New York’s 34th overall pick. During the 2013 season at the University of Akron, he played in 22 games, making 21 starts. He finished the season with five goals and five assists and was an All-Great Lakes Region Third-Team honoree and also earned All-MAC First Team honors. The Columbus, Ohio, native featured in three preseason matches for the Red Bulls.
"He obviously shows that he's learned the game, whether that be before he got to college or even at a good program like Akron," said Petke. "To me, he's a bit ahead of a lot of players coming out of college, where he sees the game and sees the things that takes certain players a while to see. He's got a great first touch and tactically wise, he's in tune with us and we're very excited for the future with him."