"We build champions" reads the advertising board at Red Bull Arena reads. A fitting motto for a club so keen on developing local talent and bringing through those who were champions for the club at the youth level to help push the team towards championships at the professional level. And yet, there remains a profound sense of irony to the Advocare slogan being blasted around the arena.
With the exception of FC Dallas, the New York Red Bulls have displayed an unprecedented commitment to signing homegrown players. However, it's only been in recent years that the team has maintained that commitment to actually playing and developing them. Due in part to the club's past behavior and in part to player's unquenchable European ambition, the Red Bulls have in the past and will continue to lose players to European clubs.
Recently, onetime Red Bulls Academy captain Russell Canouse made his Bundesliga debut, while Kyle Duncan, George Weah, Matt Olosunde, Aleks Gogic, and more currently ply their trade at European clubs. None of these players ever played for the New York Red Bulls professionally, and the Red Bulls never received a dime from their European clubs for their development. There is nothing the Red Bulls can do about that, it's the unfortunate nature of America's laws and American soccer.
However, that does prevent it from being increasingly frustrating as names continue to added to the list, the most recent potential names being academy striker Mason Toye and star Akron midfielder Adam Najem.
Mason Toye looks to have left the club completely, not featuring for the U18s this spring and no longer being listed on the team's roster. Toye is currently committed to attend the University of Indiana this fall, but reports have placed him on trial in Portugal with Sporting Club de Portugal's U-19 team. His trial performance was apparently impressive enough to warrant on extended two-week trial this summer.
Toye had previously played for the Red Bulls' U16 and U18 academy teams.
Another player to leave for the pastures of Europe is one time academy player and former Akron midfielder, Adam Najem. This winter, Najem chose to forgo his senior season at Akron in favor of trialing with clubs in Europe.
Lost in the Signing Day shuffle, I've been told that @ZipsMSoc midfielder Adam Najem won't be back for his senior season.— Travis Clark (@travismclark) February 4, 2016
Najem, widely regarded as one of the best midfielders in the college game, went on trial at Real Club Deportivo's B team. Reports are few and far between, but it appears he was ultimately dismissed from the club in February without a contract offer. At the moment, the future of one of the most exciting players to come out of New York's academy appears to be in limbo. It's unknown what Najem's next step is, whether he's cut his ties with New York, or if he may ultimately return to Akron for his senior year.
What is known is that losing out on one of the club's top prospects would be a bitter blow to the team and the team's newfound commitment to youth.