Aaron Long in Europe?
It’s a possibility the New York Red Bulls center back is excited by, as he’ll be out of contract after the 2022 MLS season.
“Yeah, of course man,” Long told Extratime’s Andrew Wiebe when asked about shipping across the pond. “I got a ride-or-die, so she'll come with me wherever. The baby's thriving now. I'm ready for whatever.”
The 29-year-old defender has been linked with an overseas move for several years, connected to clubs across France’s Ligue 1 and England’s top two divisions. Nothing has quite panned out, though, playing for the Red Bulls since 2016 while becoming a two-time MLS All-Star and the 2018 MLS Defender of the Year.
Remaining in MLS, be it at New York or elsewhere, is definitely another option. Long projects as one of the offseason’s most in-demand free agents, and he’s bound to have suitors this winter, acting as a defensive anchor with nearly 150 combined league and Audi MLS Cup Playoffs appearances.
“I'm super excited and I worked hard for this moment, sacrificed a lot of opportunities and sacrificed a lot for myself to get here,” Long said. “I'm super excited for the offseason."
Long’s decision could come at the tail-end of the FIFA 2022 World Cup, as he’s vying to make manager Gregg Berhalter’s 26-man roster as the United States enter Group B play. Ranging from what awaits in Qatar to Long’s own recovery from a ruptured Achilles’ tendon last year, he’s been in a groove.
“A good run with New York, a good playoff push there, making the World Cup roster, going far within the World Cup,” Long said of his goals. “All those things, the sky's the limit.”
Long remains plenty focused on the here and now with RBNY, who sit fourth in the Eastern Conference table. They’ve won three Supporters’ Shields – all in the last decade (2013, ‘15, ‘18) – but an MLS Cup title eludes the league originals. He’s deadset on changing that.
"It'd mean everything, man,” Long said of an MLS Cup possibility. “There's been so many amazing players and amazing captains that have come through this club. So for me to be the guy to win some silverware outside of Supporters' Shield for the club would be amazing."
Still, the possibility of RBNY’s captain exiting does loom – and he wouldn’t be the first to move on. Dax McCarty (to Chicago in 2017) and Sacha Kljestan (to Orlando in 2018) were both traded, while Luis Robles (to Miami for 2020) and Sean Davis (to Nashville for 2022) both took the free agency route.
At the very least, Long is open-minded.
“I think it comes back to right now and this year and how well I do in this year to set myself up for what I can achieve next year and what my options are. I'm excited,” he said.
For more from Extratime, check out their full episode here.