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Red Bulls running rampant on 2021 college scene

Numerous academy graduates including some with Red Bulls II pro experience line NCAA rosters this fall

North Carolina FC v New York Red Bulls II
Joey Zalinsky is one of several former Red Bulls II players who are currently trying their luck at college level.
Photo by Andy Mead/ISI Photos/Getty Images

College soccer season is here and let me tell you despite what you may have heard - it’s a good thing.

From a New York Red Bulls perspective it’s provided a wealth of talent from late round picks in Sean Nealis and Jared Stroud to first rounders like Brian White. This of course doesn’t include the academy products that honed their game in college such as Derrick Etienne or captain Sean Davis. This won’t be a comprehensive overview of every player in college with ties to the Red Bulls but instead a look at a hand full of teams, some local, with strong connections to the club with such a unique emphasis on youth recruitment.

The Locals

First up are the local schools. Over recent generations these sides have seen an influx of Red Bull academy talent and Red Bull have also traditionally tapped these schools to find players to fill out the U-23 team which made a run to the playoffs this past summer.

Princeton

The Ivy League did not play soccer last year but while they did not play they did keep recruiting from the Red Bull Academy. This season sees Nico Nee join the Tigers. Nee played with the U-19’s last year and made a few appearances with RB2 notching an assist on a spectacular solo play. He will join an attack that will be led by Kevin O’Toole on the wing. O’Toole was with the USL League Two team this summer and is the only 2016 USL champion not to have signed a pro deal yet. He is someone who could and should be on the radar for Red Bull 2 next season. Ben Bograd and Kazu Shigenobu also feature for Princeton.

Ivy League sports can be watched on ESPN Plus.

Seton Hall

Led by Andreas Lindberg (who took over for former Metro Gerson Echeverry in 2018), Seton Hall enters the season with by far the best team under Lindberg’s tenure. They bring back majority of the team that won the Big East title and reached the quarter final of the National Tournament. They enter the season ranked number 10 in the country.

The main Red Bull connection here is JP Marin. The academy grad will line up as a 10 or an 8 for the Pirates. Maurice Williams and CJ Tibbling featured for the U-23 team this summer. Tibbling is an All-Big East attacker and was 2nd team All-American last season. Williams was rewarded with Eastern Conference team of the year for USL league 2. An athletic center back who dominates in the air, he is worth watching as he is draft eligible and could be a great addition to Red Bulls II.

Seton Hall can be seen on FLO Sports.

Rutgers

Jim McElderry is entering his third season in charge of the Scarlet Knights and former Fordham coach has a put a major focus on local recruiting. Once a school many top recruits passed over and rarely saw Red Bull Academy talent, that is no longer the case.

This season Rutgers brought in a trio of academy players in Nico Rosamilia, Matthew Acosta, and Joey Zalinsky. These were major wins for McElderry and a testament to his staff’s ability to keep in state talent home. Zalinsky and Acosta are entering college with significant experience playing at a high level in the USL that many American college players don’t have. Rosamilia was a top scorer in the academy, possessing a tremendous work ethic and high soccer IQ.

Look for all three to contribute to a Rutgers squad looking to take the next step forward and compete with the likes of Indiana and Maryland at the top of the Big Ten. Last season the proved they could compete at that level with top recruiting class and much of the squad returning from last year Rutgers is a team to watch.

Rutgers can bee seen on Big Ten Extra.

Honorable Mentions

St John’s features academy winger/wingback Jared Juleau, while Fordham features academy mid Tapiwa Shumba and is coached by former Red Bulls scout Carlo Acquista.

Out of Town

Sometimes kids want to spread their wings and take a trip out of state. Luckily a ton of really good college soccer programs are there for them. These are the non-local teams with Red Bulls talent to watch.

Duke

If you are a UNC fan you probably won’t watch Duke but for the rest of us they are worth tuning in for as they feature a few Red Bull-affiliated talents. Scotty Taylor scored 6 times and notched 2 assists in 10 games for the USL 2 team this summer. He will look to carry that form into his junior campaign. He is joined by Peter Stroud and Amir Daley. Daley starts for the Blue Devils at right back and Stroud starts in the midfield. The ACC is arguably the premier conference for college soccer so every game is played at high level. Another bonus is most games are on ESPN Plus or ESPN 3.

Wake Forest

Another ACC school where Bobby Muuss has created a real powerhouse program in Winston Salem. They play a very attractive brand of soccer and have featured a Red Bull Academy player for most of Muuss’ tenure. This year is no different, with USL standout Roald Mitchell headed down there.

Mitchell had a breakout season with Red Bull II over the last year, surprising many within in the organization. He earned his minutes and made the most of them and conversations were had about him signing as a pro. He ultimately decided to go to college and wake will be a great spot for him.

With or without Red Bull academy players, Wake Forest is worth watching, but there are more to note. In addition to Mitchell, Bo Cummings also features for the Demon Decons. Babacar Niang, an exciting winger from the Peddington School, also starts his freshman year this season. He played with the U-23 team this year and is an exciting prospect at winger.

Stanford

Stanford has been a perennial power in the Pac-12 and has consistently featured Red Bulls alums. This year is no different, with Connor Mauer and Zach Ryan anchoring the defense and attack respectively. Both spent time with the U-23’s and are interesting prospects likely going on a Red Bull II to first team path if they get the opportunity.

Stanford can be seen on the Pac 12 Network.

Honorable Mentions

Louisville features center back Bryce Lebel in a program the Red Bulls have drafted from each of the past two years.

Michael Kennedy at Albany is an interesting goalie prospect who looked good with the USL League Two team this summer.