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Cristian Cásseres Jr. named Venezuelan Player of the Year

Midfielder had breakout MLS season in 2021 while establishing role in national team

SOCCER: NOV 20 MLS Cup Playoffs - New York Red Bulls at Philadelphia Union Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Cristian Cásseres is being recognized for his success on the field.

The New York Red Bulls midfielder was named Venezuelan Player of the Year at the 2nd annual El Mundo Es Un Balon awards ceremony. The 21-year-old had a strong year for club and country, maturing from developing prospect into deciding factor. The event is hosted by Radio Deporte 1590 AM based in the capital city of Caracas.

Cásseres attended the ceremony with his father, who retired from the sport in 2018 following a 20-year career and 28 senior international caps. “It is [an honor],” said the footballing paterfamilias. “Where I go I like to win and I have instilled that in him. Respect is the most important thing and on the [field] you have to beat your rival.”

After joining the Red Bulls in 2018, Cásseres appears to have experienced his breakthrough “dream season.” Playing a more attack-focused role for Gerhard Struber, the midfielder contributed six goals and three assists in 27 appearances. His play down the stretch helped clinch a spot in the 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs, including back-to-back finishes against eventual champion New York City FC and Columbus Crew SC.

At the international level, Cásseres was a regular in the starting lineup during World Cup qualification and the 2021 Copa América. While being a less frequent inclusion in recent months due to injury issues and a coaching change, he can reestablish his position under recent hire José Pekerman and promises to be a key player for the program in upcoming cycles. La Vinotinto is last in the CONMEBOL table with four matches remaining, after failing to build on promising early draws against Uruguay, Colombia, and Ecuador.

Entering his fifth year in New York and with a profile on the rise, inquiring minds wander to the possibility of a transfer abroad. “Now I’m only focused on the [Red Bulls] and the next matches with the national team,” Cásseres shared with Balonzanos in November. “I am enjoying the moment. Then the future will decide my destiny, in a few months we will see what happens, where I would have to go or if I have to stay here [in the United States].”