With the recent signing of Georgetown forward Alex Muyl on a homegrown deal, it is time for New York Red Bulls fans to get to know the college and academy star.
Who is Alex Muyl? A scouting report
Born: September 30th, 1995- New York, New York
Height: 5' 11" Weight: 175 lbs
Alex Muyl came out of New York's academy system as a wide midfielder, only to develop into a fine forward in the college game. Alongside fellow RBNY Academy graduates Christopher Lema, Brandon Allen, and Arun Basuljevic, Muyl has recorded 12 goals and 25 assists over his 62-game, 3-year career at Georgetown. His junior year was easily his best, as Muyl fully adapted to his role as a forward, scoring 6 goals, second on the team, and assisting on 10, first on team.
That assist stat from the last year gives an insight into his game as a whole. Muyl is not a pure attacking, goal-poaching forward, such as Chicharito. Instead, Muyl's game is formed around providing from the forward position. He is comfortable playing with his back to goal, and is more than capable of bodying off defenders, protecting the ball in the process. He is especially willing to play with his back to goal inside the 18-yard box, allowing him to hold up play and create time and space for options to arrive in the form of teammates. As a whole, Muyl does not shy away from contact at all and prefers to stays on his feet when clipped on the run, as he is more likely to create a chance staying upright than on the ensuing free kick.
Muyl is almost overly unselfish for a striker. He lays the ball off to a square or trailing teammate after drawing the defense to him, allowing for his strike partner, usually fellow RBNY homegrown signing Brandon Allen, to have an excellent chance in front of goal. His unselfish nature is helped by his vision of the game. Muyl sees and reads the game around him much better than the average striker, knowing when the trailing run is arriving or if he has an open teammate on the opposite side of the field much more often than the average player in his position.
As previously mentioned, Muyl originally came to Georgetown as a wide midfielder. He played there occasionally for Georgetown, but mostly featured as a striker. However his past play as a midfielder still leaves noticeable marks on his game. His close control and footwork are very good, and he is often able to maintain possession and weave through defenders by keeping the ball exceptionally tight to his feet, without losing the ball under himself and tripping up. Muyl's time as a midfielder also appears in the aforementioned selflessness of his game.
While this unselfishness has served him well in college, as Georgetown usually plays in a two striker system, it could come back to hurt him professionally. In college, Muyl could feel comfortable setting up the play, knowing he had Brandon Allen or Union Academy prospect Brett Campbell, running alongside him, or he had fellow RBNY academy grad Arun Basuljevic running from deep. However, in New York's lone-striker system this could become a problem. Having a forward who creates chances is great, but New York lacks a striking partner for Muyl to play with, and as fans saw in the playoffs, it can become trying when the majority of the team's shots come from Felipe and Sacha Kljestan. Now if Muyl wanted to revert to his wide role, and play almost as a tucked in second forward, then his holdup and layoff game could be well used, providing Bradley Wright-Philips with opportunities.
As a scoring forward, Muyl is good but not exceptional. His foot skills, physical side of his game, and slightly above-average pace allow him to create many of own chances. Muyl is calm inside the box, but not languid, and identifies his options very quickly. However, he has to become more clinical as a finisher: he scored from roughly 10% of his shots in his junior year. Comparatively, last year BWP scored approximately 15% of his, Mike Grella scored 17% of his shots, Lloyd Sam finished an astounding 31% of his; Muyl's college teammate Brandon Allen finished 18% of his shots in his senior year. Muyl is capable of shooting with both feet, and he has improved his finishing over the course of his college career, but it's certainly an area to work on going forward if he is to become an MLS-level striker.
Another spot in Muyl's play where he needs to improve is his passing. Be careful here, because Muyl's vision and view of the field are usually exceptional, as previously explained, but Muyl is too frequently prone to under-hit "hospital balls" to his teammates. This is due to Muyl trying to maintain a soft touch upon receiving the ball. With a defender fast approaching, a soft touch is very valuable to have, but too often Muyl isn't able to readjust and get his full force behind the ball shortly after, when laying the ball off to a teammate. This frequently leads to a turnover and a quick counter attack from the opponent, and Muyl's under-hit balls could be a potential problem with all the quick, intricate passing that the New York midfield loves to participate in.
Ending on a positive note, one should look no farther than how much Muyl has developed over the last three years. Often, critics of the college game claim that players don't develop there, and the game is solely results focused. It is a completely valid criticism, and college soccer often isn't the ideal place for a player to prepare for the professional game, but Alex Muyl defies that logic.
Could he have developed more from three years in a professional environment instead of going to college? Possible, and maybe Jordan Morris could have too, but that's purely a hypothetical. Instead, much like Morris, Muyl has been able to thrive and develop well within the college system. Over his three years he has progressed in leaps and bounds as a player: learning to play an unfamiliar position, improving his finishing and body control in the process, while also developing his already quality vision of the game into being able to read and execute a play much faster. If Alex Muyl continues to progress as he has these last three years, New York has an exceptionally solid MLS forward on their hands.