The New York Red Bulls hosted up to 30 coaches from 20 college programs at Thursday's training session as part of the club's continuing effort to engage with the local and national soccer community.
Speaking to reporters after the event, coach Jesse Marsch explained the rationale:
Well, Ali Curtis -- this was his initiative. And I think he's done a really good job of engaging a lot of people and into, you know, our new identity as a club, to trying to open doors to people and show them who we are and what we're about.
And it's important for everything from, you know, the supporters' groups to the season ticket holders to the soccer community to our academy, for everyone to feel like this is their team.
The programs represented by the delegation were largely, but not exclusively, drawn from what might be considered the Red Bulls' catchment area: Seton Hall, Rutgers, St. John's, Monmouth, Fordham, Cornell, Fairleigh Dickinson, Stony Brook, Rider, Kean, and coach Marsch's alma mater, Princeton.
But the club also received visitors from UNC, Maryland, Penn State, Delaware, Northeastern, UPenn, Bucknell, Southerm Connecticut, and the university that graduated Ali Curtis, Duke.
Marsch made clear the event was simply about providing the coaches with greater insight into RBNY's identity as a club:
We hope that the coaches were able to come here today and appreciate what we do and understand -- you know, understand that now when they watch us they kind of understand what we're trying to achieve. So it was fun. I had some really good soccer conversations. I don't -- it's not like I think anyone in the soccer community necessarily learned anything new, but I think that -- well, what we hope is that they feel a connection to who we are and what we're doing.
Despite the increasing importance of club academies, the college game remains an important part of the US soccer landscape. RBNY has plenty of Academy graduates seeking to commit to college programs every year, and MLS clubs still hope to pluck the NCAA's best out of the SuperDraft.
Communication between the club and colleges is therefore important. If events such as this are to be a regular part of RBNY's work moving forward, it is - one presumes - only to the benefit of the Academy and the relationships the club relies on when scouting for the Draft.