Announced by LAFC at the beginning of January, Aaron Long talked about his time with the New York Red Bulls and his new role within the Black and Gold’s squad, among other things.
After seven seasons, 175 games across all competitions, 14 goals, four assists, and being a fan favorite, Aaron Long did not renew his contract with the New York Red Bulls and departed to his native California to join the Los Angeles FC, the current MLS Cup champions.
Long, a 30 years old center back, gave an interview to the podcast “Voices of the Black and Gold” this Monday (6) and talked about the main differences regarding football styles and his role as a leader in the locker room since his days at the Red Bulls where in 2022 Long was the captain of the team with his new days with LAFC.
“I think, first and foremost, Red Bull is a pressing club throughout and through. That is the identity of the club, so when we go into a game as a New York Red Bull player, you know that you’re going to be high-pressing the whole game. There’s no plan B in a lot of those moments”, explained Long,
“I think here what I really love is that we’re still pressing, and that’s something that is very good, and that’s, I think, one of the reasons they wanted me because that is a big part of my game is being able to press and being able to defend one v one in channels, slide through and shift.
But also, there are pauses in the game, and there is a play and be times when we get broken down on how we can come back and defend in a lower block and shift a little bit and try to hit teams on the counter, not only in possession. So I think being able to play both sides of the ball a little bit more so than just that high press is something that I’m really excited about”, said the Oak Hills, California native, who’s playing on his fourth MLS team after two short stints with the Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders before his breakout with Red Bull.
“You can just act natural.”
“There’s a ton of help, and you don’t have to ask for it at a club like this. As you said, Vela, Giorgio (Chiellini), there are so many older guys, Illie in certain moments where I would catch myself feeling like I had to step up or have to say something or have to lead by example, there are not those moments. You can act very naturally. There are plenty of older guys. There are extremely professional players here, and it just kind of breeds a culture of professionalism, and there’s a ton of leadership, like I said. So just filling in and finding my role. When I need to say something, I will, but not having to force anything or not having to be the guy that’s always yelling at young guys or getting on players because there’s such a good port of leaders here”, described Long.
In 2022, the Red Bulls had 29 players under contract with an average of 22.6 years old, the youngest roster in Major League Soccer.
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“I don’t know if it is taking some stress off me, but it allows me to feel a little bit freer when I catch myself thinking like maybe I should say something, and another guy jumps in and says something about it. ‘Oh my God, take a deep breath.’ Great, that’s taken care of. I don’t need to worry about that. That’s not going to be my job. That’s another guy stepping in there. Like I said, the leadership core here is very strong. There are so many guys here. You can go down the list. Kellyn Acosta, they’re all over the name. We are very lucky’, completed the defender.