HARRISON, N.J. – Daniel Royer is trying to not be the new guy on the New York Red Bulls anymore and if the start to his first full MLS season is any indicator, the midfielder is doing a solid job of it.
Last year was a quiet debut campaign for Royer in MLS, an Austrian international who came into the squad late in the secondary transfer window. He finished with just six regular-season appearances that saw him score one goal and assist on another.
Royer’s move to the Red Bulls seemed a very natural fit, though. He came with promises of a high work rate that seemed tailored for his new squad’s high-press, but, as is often the case, his assimilation into the squad was limited somewhat by the timing of his midseason arrival.
Even then, he showed some positive signs a season ago and is doing so again in 2017. The 26-year-old Royer has been arguably the best player for the Red Bulls so far this year through two CONCACAF Champions League matches and two fixtures in the MLS regular season, demonstrating aggression on both sides of the ball while contributing a goal.
"When I came here, I tried to help as quick as possible," said Royer after the Red Bulls' 1-0 Week 2 home win over the Colorado Rapids. "I have to give credit to the whole team, how they integrated me was fantastic. I’m just working every day not to be the new guy anymore.”
His assimilation in Red Bulls' land has been helped by a solid preseason. He was eased into the lineup after arriving in August, but this year the pacy, creative winger has become an automatic starter.
“It was important to me to have the whole preseason, to get in shape, for all the things [you have] to get used to,” Royer said. “To be a long time with the team before the season starts, that was important to me.”
In Week 2, it was Royer's pressure on the Rapids' back line that led to an own goal on the stroke of halftime in a home-opening victory for the Red Bulls. The week prior in the season opener, Royer scored an impressive header that sparked his team's comeback win on the road against Atlanta United.
Not a bad start for the not-so-new guy.
“I mean, he works his butt off. He covered a lot of ground and he closed a lot of things down,” head coach Jesse Marsch said after the win vs. Colorado at Red Bull Arena. "He was dangerous in the attack, good on the ball. Really good performance from Danny. Really good performance. I thought he was our best player.”