Former New York Red Bulls academy player Konrad Plewa says that playing with former academy mates has "[played] a big role to team success" so far for New York Red Bulls II.
Plewa starred in the academy from 2010-11, and went on to be a four year player at Seton Hall University, playing both midfield and center back. He played for the Red Bulls U-23 team in 2012 and 2013, eventually signing with NYRB II after finishing his senior year at the end of 2014.
Once a Metro caught up with the breakout player for NYRB II to discuss how the new team has bonded, what it's like staying in the Red Bulls system, and if anything has topped this moment for his career.
"We know each other quite well and the chemistry is starting to show," Plewa said to Once a Metro.
"I played with [Akinyode] for the academy. I also played some time with [Daniel] Bedoya and Dan Metzger, so it's great that we had a chance to play when we were younger and now getting a chance to play together professionally is a dream."
That team chemistry has extended to off the field, where Plewa says the group is "really friendly." NYRB II features seven players on USL contracts who once played for the academy: Dan Metzger, Franklin Castellanos, Dan Bedoya, Bolu Akinyode, Tyler Adams, Victor Manosalvas, and Plewa. In addition, the team has seen numerous academy players from the U16 and U18 level get regular time for the team.
"We’re a tight-knit locker room and we all enjoy each other on the road and having a good time during training and it's all that much better, especially when you’re winning."
According to Plewa, NYRB II manager John Wolyniec contacted him about playing for the team after he finished his senior season for Seton Hall, so he spent winter training and working to be in shape for USL play in 2015. The results have paid off, with Plewa scoring 3 goals in 14 games, where he has 9 starts.
Plewa says he does not mind being deployed at center back in addition to central midfield this year, saying, "anytime I can be on the field I will be happy."
He also credits training with the first team, whether it is filling in for players who are on international duty or when NYRB II train against the MLS squad, as helping to grow his game.
"The more we are able to train with them the better, it raises the level of training and without a doubt makes every one of us that much better," Plewa said.
"It’s always a great experience and I think we play at a really good level, but being with the first team is it’s that much higher it's really a great experience."
Plewa says that scoring his first professional goal "may have topped," when he scored the game winning goal in the 2010 New Jersey state championship for Wallington High School.
"It was very rewarding feeling. I’ve always dreamt that you always you’ll score the winning goal kicking around the ball with your friends in their backyard, but when you go in a professional match for it to happen was definitely a surreal moment for me."
As NYRB II prepares to play the rest of their season at home at Red Bull Arena, Plewa agrees that it is a great home for the team, especially getting to play on the arena's pristine pitch.
"Any time you get to play on a pitch like that in a venue like that we can’t ask for anything more. It's an ideal position to play in front of all the fans that come. It's great," Plewa said.
"We’re gonna give it our all. We are a young, new team, not much is expected of us to even be where we are right now but we’ve shown that we can play and we’ve shown that we can be one of the better teams in our conference.
"I think the fans should definitely expect a fun, entertaining second half of the season for us."