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Five for the future from the Red Bulls Academy

A look at the latest youth players coming up the ranks at RBNY

International Champions Cup Launch Event - Day 3
Red Bulls academy player Serge Ngoma speaking at an International Champions Cup promotional event in Manhattan last year
Photo by Mike Stobe/International Champions Cup/Getty Images

Since the inception of the New York/New Jersey Metrostars in 1994, the club now known as the Red Bulls have upheld a tradition of playing with a squad filled with local talent, as well as maintaining one of the best youth academies in the country. Though the New York Red Bulls squad currently contains five “homegrown” players, and twelve from the Tri-State Area overall, the club’s academy is stacked to ensure the club’s roster stays filled with that local talent in the future. Once A Metro, with the help of Red Bull Hub academy expert Eric Friedlander, takes a look at some young players who Red Bull supporters should keep an eye out for in the future.

Serge Ngoma

Age Level: U-16/17 (2005)

Position: Forward

One of the highest rated attackers currently in the Red Bull academy is Ngoma, a speedy striker who can also play out wide. Youth soccer website TopDrawerSoccer has him rated as a four star prospect (out of a potential five), as well as the 26th best player in the nation at his age level. A pacey striker who likes to get behind and run off opposing defences, Friedlander noted that Ngoma in particular “has the potential to go pro”. Having notched 12 goals in 20 starts at the U-15 level in 2019, Ngoma was one of the top scorers across the entire academy, earning him a promotion to the U-16/17 team for the start of this season.

Diogo Rebelo

Age Level: U-18/19 (2002)

Position: Midfielder

Rebelo is a Portguese-born attacking midfielder who has maintained an excellent scoring record since his entry into the Red Bull academy at the U-16/17 level. Friedlander heralds Rebelo’s ability in tight spaces and in dead ball situations but don’t let his technical dribbling and flair fool you - he has a ruthless eye for goal as well. He enjoyed a particularly strong 2019/2020 campaign with the Red Bulls’ U-18/19 team, starting 11 games and scoring 8 goals. As he heads to college play this autumn, RBNY fans won’t have to travel far to watch him play, as he’ll be joining up with an oft-underrated New Jersey Institute of Technology program in Newark.

Caden Clark

Age Level: RBII (2003)

Position: Midfielder

Considered a coup of a signing for the Red Bulls, Clark put pen to paper for New York Red Bulls II in February, despite just being 16 years old at the time. A creative midfielder with stellar passing range, Clark had previously spent time training with FC Barcelona’s La Masia academy, even scoring in a “Cadet A” European match. One of the highest rated prospects in the 2003 age class, Clark is rated as a 5 star prospect by TopDrawerSoccer, and has consistently been in the youth national team fold since 2017. Despite his young age, the Minnesota native is expected to be getting professional minutes for NYRB II consistently when the USL season returns.

Liam Winograd

Age Level: U-16/17 (2004)

Position: Defender

The Ridgewood native made the switch from Cedar Stars Academy to the Red Bulls’ prior to the 2019/2020 season, and since then hasn’t wasted time establishing himself as a stalwart at the back for the U-16/17 squad, starting all 13 games he appeared in during the campaign. Described by Friedlander as “a strong tackler who throws his body around to win the ball,” Winograd is a versatile athlete whose 5’11 frame masks an already powerful defensive force. One can expect to see a lot more of Winograd as he looks to build off of his strong first season once academy matches resume.

Joey Zalinsky

Age Level: U-18/19 (2003)

Position: Defender

A 2003-born outside back from Brick Township, Zalinsky is another Red Bull academy stalwart who has received youth national team attention, having previously represented the country at a U-16 camp at IMG Academy. A three star prospect on TopDrawerSoccer, the versatile defender is clearly rated highly by the club, having started all 15 games he appeared in across the U-16/17 and U-18/19 levels in the last year. Friedlander noted he “plays mean,” perhaps mimicking fan-favorite former left-back Kemar Lawrence’s constant fearlessness in diving into loose balls and tackles alike. Though just a junior in high school, it’s very possible Zalinsky could be receiving a professional deal with Red Bull II if he continues to shine at the back once the academy season returns.