TAMPA, Fla. – The United Soccer League announced today New York Red Bulls II defender Aaron Long had been voted the 2016 USL Defender of the Year after anchoring a defense that conceded the fewest goals in the USL in the 2016 regular season.
The 2016 USL Awards were voted on by team management and a league-wide media panel that included representation from every USL market. Voting was conducted following the conclusion of the 2016 USL regular season.
“This year’s been my first primarily at center back, or just in any one position for a full year, and I think that’s helped me grow and learn the position a lot better,” said Long. “The leaders have taken me under their wing from the first team, I’ve gotten a lot of help from people.”
Long joined the Red Bulls II this offseason from fellow USL club Seattle Sounders FC 2, and immediately made a major impact in the center of the club’s defense. Long made 22 appearances for the Red Bulls II in the regular season, recording a pair of goals, as his ability to read the play and limit opponents’ clear chances helped New York claim the USL Regular Season Championship and eventually the 2016 USL Cup.
The Red Bulls II completed the regular season with shutouts in more than half of their contests, finishing one shy of the USL record with 16 on the season. The side conceded only 21 goals in the regular season, and allowed multiple goals in a game just five times in 30 contests.
A third-year professional, Long was also selected by the New York Red Bulls to compete in the CONCACAF Champions League group stage, as the Red Bulls advanced to the quarterfinal stage of the tournament next spring.
2016 USL Awards
Goalkeeper of the Year: Mitch Hildebrandt, FC Cincinnati
Defender of the Year: Aaron Long, New York Red Bulls II
Coach of the Year: Announced November 2
Rookie of the Year: Announced November 3
Most Valuable Player: Announced November 4