Jonny Steele enjoying breakout season for Red Bulls

Jonny Steele has three goals and four assists this season for the Red Bulls. Credit: Getty Images
Jonny Steele has three goals and four assists this season for the Red Bulls.
Credit: Getty Images

When Jonny Steele was acquired by the Red Bulls in a preseason trade with Real Salt Lake in late February, the expectations for the Northern Irishman were relatively low. Steele looked like a depth player unlikely to be an impact type in New York.

But after 22 starts this year, Steele has been nothing short of a season-changer for his new club. It has gotten to the point that he might get a call up to his national team soon. Steele scored the Red Bulls’ third and final goal Aug. 3 in a 3-2 win over Sporting Kansas City, and he was named to the MLS Team of the Week as well.

But he isn’t just scoring goals — he is showing a creative spark down the left flank and now has a willingness to take on players on the dribble, something the hard-working left winger didn’t show earlier in the season.

“I always felt like I was a decent crosser of the ball and in Salt Lake, they didn’t cross the ball. That’s no disrespect to Salt Lake; they like to keep the ball and that’s their system, and it works,” Steele told Metro. “Here I feel like if I get the ball wide, I can put it in or do something with it. I have to keep working and playing consistent. There are good players here and I’m learning from them. I’m going to get better. This is my first year here, I’ve played 22 games and I expect to come back better and fitter.

“It is a confidence thing and I think they’re willing to let me do more things. It isn’t about beating players; I’m not a player who is going to dribble down the line and beat six players. But what I will do is work hard and leave it all out there.”

It hasn’t been a quick road to success for Steele, who at 27 years old is just hitting his prime. He has been in the United States on and off since 2004 and has primarily played in the lower divisions, even in the Major Indoor Soccer League, to eke out a living. But now with the glamour club of MLS, the industrious Steele is gaining admirers here and abroad.

While nothing is definite right now, Steele could well be called up to Northern Ireland’s national team for their slate of September World Cup qualifying matches, based solely off his performance this year for the Red Bulls. Nothing is concrete but Red Bulls sporting director Andy Roxburgh has been advocating his midfielder to the Northern Ireland federation.

“Jonny, to me, is a workhorse. Anything after that is a bonus. He has, what, three goals? And a number of assists. He’s a guy who goes out there and does what he is asked to do, especially on the defensive end,” head coach Mike Petke said. “He’s a hard worker. In this league, that’s the best starting point to have — a hard worker and then you go from there.”

His love for this club — he calls himself “blessed” to be a Red Bull — doesn’t stop with just himself. His father, Dan Steele, recently suffered a stroke and continues to recover in his Northern Ireland home. When three Red Bulls players — goalkeeper Santiago Castano, forward Amando Moreno and defender Matt Miazga — got called up by the United States youth national team recently for the Milk Cup in Northern Ireland, Steele’s father wanted to go support his son’s teammates in the tournament.

He had never met the players before but he knew that they were teammates of his son.

“He said that ‘I’m going to watch them Red Bull boys’ and he watched them that first game and then I got a text from my mom the next day saying that ‘You won’t believe it, he’s dragging me up there again to watch them play,’ because they play every day in that tournament,” Steele said. “And it is good for him since he can’t work for a year so he’s watching all things Red Bull and watches the game and he’s become part of the family. It’s great for him and he got a picture with them and he loved it.”

Follow Red Bulls writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.


Sprint and T-Mobile offer further price discounts

Sprint unveiled a plan on Thursday that gives subscribers access to unlimited data for $60 a month, the industry's cheapest unlimited data offering.


Hundreds pay it forward at Florida Starbucks in…

The spontaneous chain of kindness continued for about 11 hours, totaling 457 transactions by the time it ended.


Weather system east of Caribbean could turn into…

An area of low pressure located east of the Caribbean Sea has a 50 percent chance of becoming a tropical depression or storm in the next 48 hours, U.S. forecasters…


U.S. hospital to discharge doctor treated with experimental…

An American doctor who contracted Ebola treating victims of the deadly virus in Liberia has recovered and will be discharged on Thursday by the Atlanta hospital that treated him with…


Review: 'When the Game Stands Tall' is both…

The high school football saga "When the Game Stands Tall" fumbles around for a focus while Jim Caviezel offers the most low-key coach in history.


Girlfriend in a coma: Chloe Grace Moretz

Chloe Grace Moretz is the best cheerleader "If I Stay" could ask for. As the star of the film adaptation of the successful YA novel…

The Word

The Word: Summer lovin' for Zac Efron and…

Ah, the summer romance. So intense, so fleeting. With Labor Day fast approaching, it should come as little surprise that the incredibly surprising romance between…

The Word

The Word: The Zac Efron-Michelle Rodriguez summer fling…

  Ah, the summer romance. So intense, so fleeting. With Labor Day fast approaching, it should come as little surprise that the incredibly surprising romance…


Fantasy football draft guide: How to draft your…

Many are wondering if we’re entering a new age in fantasy football drafting — one where running backs take a backseat.


Jets vs. Giants: 3 Giants storylines to watch

The Giants have plenty to work on as they reach the dress rehearsal preseason game Friday night against the rival Jets.


Jets vs. Giants: 3 Jets storylines to watch

Metro looks at three Jets storylines to watch as they play the Giants Friday.


Giants expected to work Corey Washington into first-team…

The day of reckoning for the Giants' fringe players will fall upon them Friday night against the Jets.


Big weddings may lead to long-term happiness

Dreaming of a big wedding? A new study indicates that the longer your guest list, the happier you’ll be in the long run. l A…


Online dating for every generation

Frank Jackson and his mother Maggie are like lots of modern families: They have dinner together regularly, keep each other updated on their lives —…


Going green could be the key to getting…

If we could just pursue the things that would actually make us happy, we could help the environment too, according to a New York researcher.…


Siren: A new dating app that puts women…

Online dating can be brutal, especially for single women. Noting that many women hate wading through inappropriate messages and photos, two tech entrepreneurs decided to…