The New York Red Bulls are looking to get younger this off-season. Recently on Seeing Red, Sporting Director Ali Curtis dropped another hint as to the team's plans:
"We have our eyes on a couple of players that we'll add," Curtis shared. "Tyler Adams will already join the team so that will be exciting to me, get him back from the World Cup and get him going in preseason. There are two other young players we are excited about and see if we can conclude those deals."
Curtis has spoken in the past about Tyler Adams' first team future, and the "two other young players" provides further insight into player movement during the upcoming off-season.
Who could these young players be? For the purposes of this article, college seniors aren't going to be considered. There are a lot of talented college seniors who have come through the academy, and it's possible Curtis was talking about them, but I don't believe Ali was referring to the team's plans for Virginia fullback Scott Thomsen or Maryland midfielder Mael Corboz.
Instead, we're going to examine the team's potential signings in three categories: players currently in the Academy, college freshmen, and college sophomores and juniors.
Mason Deeds, CB, 17: Deeds is committed to play college soccer at Georgetown, but could be persuaded to forego a scholarship much like Matt Miazga was a few years ago. He has already played two games for NYRB II, and it's likely he would be signed to the USL squad first as he's still very young.
Brian Saramago, ST/LW/RW, 16: Saramago might be a little young to go pro, but that's the same age Tyler Adams was when the team brought him into the fold. He is committed to play his college soccer at Loyola, but after notching 31 goals in 32 games for the U16 Academy team during the 2014-2015 season, he's someone to keep an eye on.
Matthew Olosunde, RB, 17: After attracting interest from Manchester United and other big name foreign clubs, it would be a coup if New York could get Olosunde in the door. He spent the last year at US Soccer's Residency Program in Bradenton, playing well for the U-17 national team. A fullback in a similar mold to DeAndre Yedlin, Olosunde is fast and frequently pushes forward, but is still very raw.
Derrick Etienne, LW, 18: In fourteen games for NYRBII, Etienne scored three goals and assisted on three others, adding an offensive bite to the team when it was still finding its feet. Most impressively, he adapted to the high press and forced turnovers which makes him a fit for the Red Bulls' gegenpressing. Now in college, Etienne has impressed already at Virginia, enough to earn him the number five ranking on TopDrawerSoccer's top 100 freshmen list. Don't be surprised to see Etienne in a Red Bulls jersey again soon.
Juan Sebastian Sanchez, ST, 18: Sanchez joined the Academy for his senior year and scored 17 goals in 21 matches for the U-18 team. His stellar play earned him a spot in New York's preseason camp, a spot on NYRB II, and multiple U-18 national team call ups. Sanchez has impressed at Tulsa, scoring five goals and assisting on two more.
College Sophomores and Juniors:
Adam Najem, AM, 20: The most exciting player college came back to play with the Red Bulls' U-23 team this summer, despite not appearing on the initial roster. Najem is having another solid year at Akron, scoring seven and assisting on four more. If he's willing to leave college early, Najem would be a big pickup this off-season.
Alex Muyl, ST, 20: Muyl's not the flashiest or the most technical player, but he gets the job done. He's notched four goals and seven assists for Georgetown this season.
Arun Basuljevic, AM, 19: To get Basuljevic to leave college early would be quite the steal for New York. He was one of the last cuts to the U-20 World Cup and Top Drawer Soccer's Travis Clark routinely cites Basuljevic as one of the most pro-ready players in college soccer. He'll probably attract some overseas interest (if he hasn't already), but the Red Bulls should be the front-runner to sign him whenever he comes out.