The New York Red Bulls have one of the most difficult histories in Major League Soccer. The club was founded as the New York/ New Jersey MetroStars (yeah that’s a long name) in 1996 and was set up to be one of the premier clubs in MLS. Despite fielding the likes of Roberto Donadoni, Tony Meola, and Tab Ramos, the 1996 season was average at best, what followed were some difficult years, with an all-time low in 1999 where the MetroStars lost 12 straight games. During the course of their history the Red Bulls have had a total of 15 coaches, with the likes of Carlos Queiroz, Carlos Alberto Parreira, Bora Milutinović, Bob Bradley, Bruce Arena, Juan Carlos Osorio, and Jesse Marsch having coached the club at one point, with Osorio and Marsch achieving any real memorable results.
The Red Bull Group purchased the club in 2006 and focused on a more player development strategy, which has garnered the best results for the club. Since Red Bulls took over the team, the Red Bulls have been an MLS Cup finalist in 2008, winners of three Supporter Shields, and runners up of the U.S. Open Cup on two occasions. Still, an MLS Cup continues to elude the club.
The team has fielded some of the biggest names in the history of MLS, they have developed some of the best USMNT players at the moment and have created some local heroes over the years. Just who are the best players in Red Bulls history? It’s a list that includes the names of Roberto Donadoni, Tony Meola, Tim Howard, Juan Pablo Angel, and Thierry Henry! Find out who are the rest!
17. Roberto Donadoni
The Italian maestro should be higher on the list if not for the fact that he only played two seasons for the club. Without question the early MetroStars teams had a huge upgrade in elegance and professionalism when Roberto Donadoni suited up for the MetroStars. Donadoni was hardly past his prime when he came to MLS, during the 1996 season he played for Italy in the 1996 Euro Cup, and when he left in 1997, he returned to A.C. Milan. In total, Donadoni played 49 games and scored 6 goals for the MetroStars.
16. Tab Ramos
Tab Ramos was the first player signed by MLS in 1996 and was allocated to the MetroStars, the New Jersey native was without question one of the most skillful players the USMNT ever produced. Ramos' time with the MetroStars was injury riddled, with flashes of brilliance in the seven seasons he played for the club. When on, Ramos had no equal in regard to ball control and long distance shooting, if not for two terrible ACL injuries, Ramos might have helped lead the MetroStars to silverware. Tab Ramos played 121 games and scored 8 goals for the club.
15. Tyler Adams
Tyler Adams is on this list for his talent and what he represents, a pipeline to bigger things. Adams showed he had USMNT potential while in New York, and when he was sold to sister club Red Bull Leipzig, he proved he can play at the highest level. Adams is just one of the young names to make a European jump while with the Red Bulls.
14. Joel Lindpere
Joel Lindpere was all about hardwork in New York. Lindpere was a fan favorite for his hustle and his leadership on the field. He scored 17 goals in 104 appearances for the club in three seasons, Lindpere was an ironman in the Red Bulls midfield.
13. Tony Meola
If the Red Bulls have had anything over the years it has been reliable goalkeepers, and Tony Meola was the first in a long line of standouts in goal. Meola put up amazing numbers while in goal for the MetroStars, he was a league leader in saves, the team's defense was often miserable, shutouts, amazing feat considering the team’s lack of defense, and minutes played. Meola basically revitalized his career in New York and would go on to make history in Kansas City and earn his 100 cap for the USMNT.
12. Mike Petke
Mike Petke is the first local hero to make the list. Petke was all heart as a rookie and as time went along was the most consistent face on the roster with so much change over the years. Petke would play over 150 games for the team and when he retired, he coached the Red Bulls to their first major championship, the 2013 Supporters Shield. To Red Bulls fans he is a club legend.
11. Tim Howard
Before Tim Howard was racking up saves in the EPL for Everton he started as a bright-eyed kid with the MetroStars. Howard had amazing athletic ability and would eventually win the starting goalkeeper spot and play 88 games for the team. How good was Howard? Well, a little club named Manchester United bought him at a bargain price, at ManU he would win EPL goalkeeper of the year honors before moving to Everton to become a fixture at the club. Howard also represented the USMNT at three World Cups.
10. Amado Guevara
During the dark years of MLS, Amado Guevara was manning the MetroStars midfield. Guevara became a club hero in his four seasons with the club, playing over 100 games and scoring 32 goals. Like much in Red Bull history, things for the club were inconsistent, but Guevara was that bright spot in some pretty dark years for the club and the league.
9. Tim Cahill
One of the team’s first DP signings the Australian international Tim Cahill was all heart and guts in the Red Bulls midfield. An example and team leader Cahill scored some nice goals for the club, 14, in 62 games. Cahill was one of the leaders in the 2013 Supporters Shield run. The team has since found it hard to once again find a leader in the middle like Cahill.
8. John Wolyniec
Another local hero John Wolyniec scored 26 goals for the club, none more important than the goal in MLS Cup in 2008, although the team came up short. Wolyniec was known for his grit and goal poaching and he earned the nickname the Staten Island Ronaldo by the Red Bulls faithful.
7. Clint Mathis
The 2002 World Cup hero came to the MetroStars via the Galaxy in 2000 and turned into a club legend. Clint Mathis scored some sensational goals for the MetroStars over his 5 seasons, 39 in 93 games. In 2000 Mathis scored 5 goals in a game against the Dallas Burn, and while his stock was rising MLS nixed a move to Bayern Munich, after which Mathis production began to fall until he left to play for Hannover 96. Maturity and professionalism were always issues with Mathis, but he is one of the best pure talents the Red Bulls or USMNT ever had.
6. Giovanni Savarese
The clubs first true idol, Giovanni Savarese, was an unknown Venezuelan striker in 1996, but by the end of that season all of Giants Stadium was chanting his name. Savarese was a hardnose goal poacher, he scored an amazing bicycle kick goal against the Mutiny to get the clubs first ever win. Gio would score 44 goals for the club in three seasons.
5. Daniel Royer
Fast forward to today and Daniel Royer has turned into an unlikely club leader, Royer has scored 50 goals for the club since his arrival in 2016. Winner of the 2018 Supporters Shield, Royer has been a consistent winger and has earned his place as one of the best Red Bulls of all time.
4. Luis Robles
Leader, captain, amazing saves, that is what Luis Robles was to the New York Red Bulls. From 2012 - 2019 Robles was a rock in goal for the Red Bulls. With 238 games, Robles was a part of all three Supporter Shields the club has won in its history. In a club that has had Meola and Howard in goal, Robles tops them because he actually had long term success at the club.
3. Juan Pablo Angel
One of the team’s best signings was Colombian goal scorer Juan Pablo Angel. From 2007-2012, Angel scored 62 goals in over 100 appearances for the team. Angel was a part of the 2008 MLS Cup run and was always consistent when putting the ball in the back of the net.
2. Thierry Henry
Hard to put Thierry Henry at number two, but he has to go in the two spot. Thierry Henry was everything you want in a star signing, professional, involved, leader, and class. Henry was just Henry. An ambassador for the sport. Henry captained the team and scored 52 goals for 5 seasons, but every minute was a showcase of a world class talent that is always welcomed in New York.
1. Bradley Wright-Phillips
BWP as he is known, Bradley Wright-Phillips, is number 1, Wright-Phillips is the clubs all-time leading goal scorer with 126 total goals for the Red Bulls. For seven seasons BWP was all goals, having three seasons where he scored 20 or more goals. In a club that has signed many top names, and seen many big stars fail, Bradley Wright-Phillips found a home in New York and wrote his name as the best player in team history.