With over 60 Red Bulls Academy products playing in the college soccer ranks, it's nearly impossible to follow all of them (which is a very good problem to have). Therefore, we here at Once a Metro have decided to profile ten ‘players to watch', for those who can't catch every game. Here are ten Red Bulls prospects who could be future Homegrown or New York Red Bulls II signings:
Forward, Senior, Georgetown:
Brandon Allen has long been touted as one of the most exciting prospects in the Red Bulls system and in the college game as a whole. As he enters his senior season at Georgetown, he'll look to put an exclamation point on an already successful college career. Allen broke onto the college scene as a freshman, lighting up the NCAA with 16 goals, and has maintained solid play since then. He's scored 38 goals and assisted on 10 in his 70 games played for Georgetown. This year Allen is ranked 29th on TopDrawerSoccer.com's top 100 players in college, joining three other Red Bull Academy graduates on the list, and is on the Hermann Trophy watchlist for the second consecutive year. He'll need to put in a superlative effort to capture the award ahead of front-runners such as teammate Joseph Yaro, and USMNT striker Jordan Morris. In a Red Bulls player pool packed with talented midfielders, Allen's first-class talent as forward certainly stands out, and should definitely be considered for a Homegrown contract this winter.
Midfielder, Sophomore, Georgetown:
Much like his Georgetown team, Brandon Allen, Arun Basuljevic wowed the college game in his freshman year. His six goals as a freshman led him to be named as Soccer America's "Freshman of the Year", and propelled him to be one of the last cuts on Tab Ramos' U20 World Cup squad. Though his ‘true' position is up for debate, no one can deny Basuljevic's talent, making him one of the most exciting underclassmen in college. Like his teammate Allen, Basuljevic make TDS' top 100, coming in at number 21. It'll be interesting to see if Basuljevic can continue to refine his game and continue to make the same impact in sophomore year.
Midfielder, Senior, Maryland:
Mael Corboz has the potential to be this year's Sean Davis. He is one of the NCAA's top midfielders, a great two-way player, and a likely high first round draft pick. In terms of why you should be excited to watch Corboz, look no further than the team he leads. Maryland is a perennial powerhouse, currently ranked sixth in the nation. In 2014, he led the Terps in goals (10) and started every match, earning First Team All Big-10 honors. If Corboz can match or exceed those numbers during his senior year, there in a bright pro future ahead of him, hopefully with the Red Bulls.
Goalkeeper, Sophomore, Michigan:
Santi Castaño better watch his back. Despite Castaño's recent improvements as he plays more regularly with NYRB II, it'll be hard for him to keep up with Evan Louro's steady rise in the Big Ten. Coming into his sophomore year, Louro looks set to win the starting spot for Michigan, after starting eight matches in his freshman year. Playing time is a must for young keepers to develop, making the college game ideal for goalkeepers, despite it lacking in other areas. Evan Louro is no exception: if he cements his position at Michigan and continues his current level of play with Michigan and the Red Bulls U-23's, then he could be a MLS starter in the near future. Look for Louro to firmly claim the starting job in Ann Arbor and to continue to progress in his second college season.
Midfielder, Sophomore, Georgetown:
There are six Red Bulls Academy graduates currently at Georgetown, and it's tempting to mention all of them as top prospects. However, considering he was in training camp with the senior team in Florida during the pre-season, it's prudent to mention Lema. As a freshman, he appeared in 21 of Georgetown's 23 games, forcing himself into an already stacked midfield. This year he's already appeared in all four of Georgetown's games, starting three of them. He was one of three Red Bulls to be called into the USMNT U23 college ID camp, and is rated highly by talent prognosticators.
Midfielder, Junior, Akron:
Few players light up the stage like Adam Najem. He has the technical skill that many lack at this level and creativity that can't be taught. After a breakout sophomore season, in which he scored a team leading 14 goals, Najem hopes to round out his game this year with a few more assists and drive a young Akron team forward. Najem leads RBNY players in Top Drawer Soccer's preseason rankings, coming in at number 15, but if you ask me he could a few places higher. He has good, though not game breaking speed, a very soft first touch, impressive finishing ability, and fantastic vision. I'm not saying Najem will be New York's Jordan Morris, but I am saying he could be.
Words don't do justice to Najem's stellar play, so here are some highlights from his last college season, enjoy (I particularly like the highlights at 0:58, 2:02, 2:48, and 5:34 if you're looking for a condensed watch).
Defender, Sophomore, Wake Forest:
Only a sophomore, Politz started 18 of Wake Forest's 19 games in his freshman season (he came off the bench in the one other game), and looks to have retained his starting job again this year. Playing time can be hard to come by for young defenders at the pro level, so if Politz continues to get game time, then he should develop into a pro prospect.
Forward, Sophomore, Siena:
In his freshman season, Tejera scored six goals and added three assists in 19 games. His stellar freshman year saw him named to the Second Team All-MAAC and the Mid Atlantic Athletic Conference's Freshman of the Year. This year the forward has already picked up where he left off, notching two assists in the first three games. Players outside of the bigger conferences sometimes have a hard time getting a pro look, but if Tejera can keep up his play, he certainly deserves to be in contention for a Homegrown deal.
Oh, and his favorite food is chicken parm.
Defender, Senior, Virginia:
Scott Thomsen scored a goal in the championship game to lead the New York Red Bulls U23 team to the 2014 NPSL title, helped push that same team to USL PDL championship game this year, and is a reigning national champion with the Virginia Cavaliers. That is quite the résumé for the rising senior. Thomsen will look to lead the preseason number one Cavaliers back to the national championship, though that'll be quite the task. Unlike many fullbacks, Thomsen is not the fleetest of foot. Instead, Thomsen excels as a very good passer of the ball, can beat a man off the dribble, and has fantastic delivery on free kicks and crosses.
Thomsen trained with the MLS squad this summer and it would be fair to assume that the club is keeping a close eye on him.
Defender/Midfielder, Senior, Bucknell:
Chris Thorsheim isn't a flashy player, but is a very hard worker who contributes on both sides of the ball. Thorsheim won't necessarily impress the casual fan, but he is constantly moving and getting involved. He is versatile, playing as a fullback for New York's U23s or as a midfielder for Bucknell, and was named to the Preseason Shortlist for the Hermann Trophy. Thorsheim, despite playing in The Patriot League, should be one of the top candidates for a Homegrown/USL contract going into the year.