For the second time in five years, the New York Red Bulls are parting ways with their Captain.
It was first reported by MLSsoccer.com on Dec. 31, that New York Red Bulls captain, Sean Davis had left the Red Bulls to sign with Nashville SC as a free agent.
Thank you, Sean.
— New York Red Bulls (@NewYorkRedBulls) December 30, 2021
Davis first signed with the New York Red Bulls as a homegrown player on Dec. 11, 2014 and went on to make his MLS debut on April 17, 2015. Since then, the Red Bulls academy product has gone on to win two Supporter' Shields with the club in 2015 and 2018.
On Feb. 27, 2020, Davis was named the 14th Red Bulls captain in the 25-year history of the club. At the same time, he became the first homegrown captain in club history. However, the 2021 MLS season may have been the Monmouth County native's best in a Red Bull uniform, because he was the only Red Bulls outfield player who played every minute of the 2021 season.
Red Bulls fans have every right to be dissatisfied with the club after it failed to re-sign their captain but at the end of the day, the onus is now on the Red Bulls front office to sign a defensive midfielder with experience, this offseason.
Can the Red Bulls Replace Sean Davis?
Red Bulls manager Gerhard Struber rotated through three different defensive midfielders during the 2021 season: Sean Davis, Tom Edwards, and Dru Yearwood. As of now, Davis is gone and it's possible that Edwards will not return, either. This means that Yearwood is currently the only remaining player who played defensive midfielder last season. While Yearwood is a strong midfielder, the Red Bulls will need to add at least one, perhaps two defensive midfielders to really feel secure at that position heading into 2022.
According to transfermarkt.com, there are plenty of free agents who played big minutes as defensive midfielders in MLS last season. The best available free agents include Sporting Kansas City's Ilie Sanchez and Real Salt Lake's Everton Luiz.
The 31-year-old from Kansas City, Ilie Sanchez seems like the best pick out of this group. He has been in MLS for the last five seasons and made at least 30 appearances in each of those seasons. On the other hand, the 33-year-old Luiz may be older than Sanchez (31), but Luiz has only played in MLS for the last two seasons.
At the end of the day, the Red Bulls have to find a good replacement for their captain and most consistent starting-eleven player. The Red Bulls proved by making the playoffs and taking the Philadelphia Union to extra time in the first round of the playoffs that they can be a playoff team going forward, but first the front office have to add players to this team who can make the Red Bulls a contender for MLS Cup.
While the Red Bulls think very highly of Daniel Edelman's future with the club, he will still be 18 years old when the season begins. This means the Red Bulls really need to sign a defensive midfielder this transfer window who can replace some of the leadership and minutes that Sean Davis provided for this Red Bulls team in 2021. Finding a replacement for Davis will not be easy but remains one of the Red Bulls's top priorities this offseason.