A new striker signing may have been revealed…for the winter transfer window…via a context-free detail…in an entertainment article. Never a dull moment for a club with local roots in the media capital of the world.
Rob Jennings of NJ.com profiled dancer Cecillia Mitchell, a recent graduate of Stockton University who is “versatile in modern, ballet, contemporary, jazz, hip-hip, improvisation, and more.” She hopes to educate the next generation by teaching at Sharron Miller’s Academy for the Performing Arts in Montclair, New Jersey. However, her greater goal is to travel the world as a performer.
Mitchell was a star for the Red Bulls at the youth level, scoring in bunches after moving over from the Players Development Academy. For the 2021 season, he impressed during preseason camp and was promoted to the reserve team on an amateur contract. The young attacker contributed two goals and two assists across ten appearances, impressing observers with his combination of athleticism and technical ability.
The standout performance came in a 2-2 draw with Charleston Battery, in which the Montclairian scored and drew a penalty. The USL Championship named him to the Team of the Week, also citing that he won 11 out of 14 duels. A truly rugged striker, he was noted for his ability to win aerial battles and tackles, while drawing fouls from the opponent.
Mitchell departed the club and matriculated to Wake Forest University, home to a powerhouse collegiate soccer program that also helped refine current Red Bulls attacker Omir Fernandez after his own academy career. In his freshman season, Mitchell appeared in all 21 matches and scored five times, helping the Demon Deacons reach the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament. His game-winning goal secured a 3-2 victory over Florida International University in the second round. To cap off the year, Trinidad and Tobago invited him to train with the U-20 national team in advance of the CONCACAF Championship, but his presence was absent from the final roster.
While some may hold a dismissive opinion toward the collegiate game, Mitchell appears to appreciate the development opportunity, while balancing the challenges of schoolwork and athletics. “I honestly don’t see a difference in competition between the Red Bulls and the [Atlantic Coast Conference],” he told Old Gold & Black in May. “Right now, I think the league is really competitive and I’m still getting the same type of competition…. As a freshman member, in the fall season, I didn’t get much playing time. So you know, that was something I had to adjust to and so it’s not working for you and stuff. You have to work through it so I’d just fight through it… I have a lot of schoolwork on my mind and other stuff. So I have a lot of stuff that [factors] into me having cold streaks.”
He would certainly fill some role at the top of the formation, perhaps even for the first team. “Mitchell is a lanky striker with the pace to get in behind defenses and the ability to finish in the air,” wrote an oddly prescient Eric Friedlander for OaM last year. “A consistent scorer at the academy level, he may not make a huge impact this year but could be a player [who] benefits down the line from eventual time at Wake Forest, which has become a pro factory of late.”
The theorized trajectory of “academy standout” to “college seasoning” ending with “professional contract” appears to be right on track following the recent signings of NCAA standouts Omir Fernandez and Zach Ryan to Homegrown contracts. Mitchell should continue to put in strong performances with Wake Forest, having adjusted to the idiosyncrasies of the student-athlete lifestyle and the level of play. Whether his road leads back to the Red Bulls or elsewhere remains to be seen, although six months is a short time to wait.
As always and until proven otherwise, the best transfer information comes from a newspaper’s style and entertainment sections.