Taking the next step in his professional soccer career, midfielder Daniel Edelman has signed a USL contract with New York Red Bulls II ahead of the 2021 season. He’s the sixth player signed for 2021 and second academy product to join full-time after Curtis Ofori.
The Warren Township native has spent most of his youth career with North Jersey club Players Development Academy (PDA) before shifting to the Red Bulls academy. He has appearances with the US youth national team program (under-16 & under-17s), and made his debut with Red Bulls II last year in the team’s first league match following the COVID-19 suspension. Edelman is currently in Florida training with the Red Bulls first team before the USL squad assembles in the coming weeks.
Red Bulls II manager John Wolyniec and the rest of the organization have already gotten a glimpse of what Edelman can do. His time with the USL squad, aided by the team lacking man-power due to call-ups and COVID, included his first professional goal which came in his first start. A forward pass into open space by Jake LaCava set up the midfielder to beat Philadelphia Union II keeper Mitchell Budler low, one of five goals the team scored in their second biggest win of the season.
While initially trained as a defender, Edelman has developed into a midfielder who has the speed and drive to get around opposing teams. The highlights from his PDL days (playing as #24) show his ability to read defenses and find space on the side, usually the left where he’s historically been.
But the defensive tendencies are still there as well, something that’s seen in his less talked about second start against Loudon United from August 12. In that 2-1 loss, heat map data shows he spent most of that game just above the left side of the penalty area and in the center of the field just past the kickoff circle, marking against Loudoun’s right-sided offensive threats, Elvis Amoh and Theodore Ku-Dipietro. His 90 minutes on that field were mostly going toe-to-toe against an offense that out-possessed and out-shot New York, and they still only lost by one goal.
It also helps that Edelman is hungry. Last year he told Once A Metro how he wants to play in Europe eventually and how his early years at the PDL were categorized by fighting against being on the “B” team by proving people wrong. He’s a player confident in his abilities but knowing there is still plenty of room and time to improve. Given that Red Bulls II is coming off perhaps its weakest season in team history, coach Wolyniec’s group may be undergoing a sizable shift as well. Being part of that may be the best way for Daniel Edelman to continue his own development to MLS or beyond.