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Derby wins and documentary stardom for Red Bulls youth structure

Red Bulls II hitting stride in USL Championship as U-23 team also assembles for summer

North Carolina FC v New York Red Bulls II Photo by Andy Mead/ISI Photos/Getty Images

It is has been a busy time for young players in the New York Red Bulls youth system. Red Bull II is up and running in USL Championship play as is the U-23 team in League Two. On the academy front the much-anticipated New York Academy Derby saw positive results for the Red Bulls over an emerging local rival.

New York Red Bulls II

It has been an interesting start for the Baby Bulls as they have juggled a bunch of moving parts while trying to find some continuity. However, it appears they are starting to put it all together with a 2-1 win vs Loudon and a come from behind 2-2 tie vs Charleston. Despite an inconsistent start players have started to stand out.

On the defensive side, first team exile Mandela Egbo and new signing Emir Tombul have formed a nice partnership. Egbo has provided a veteran presence in the squad while Tombul has used his size and athleticism to put in good performances. Tombul has really impressed in how quickly he has grown. His first game he looked very shaky and unsure of himself. However, he has looked better and more confident each game which is seen when he strides forward with the ball. On the left the platoon of Juan Castillo and Curtis Ofori has stabilized the position. Matthew Acosta deserves a lot of credit for stepping up and filling the position despite little experience there. Midfielder Daniel Edelman has continued to put in solid performances after spending preseason with the first team.

But the biggest surprise has been the emergence of Roald Mitchell. Mitchell a Wake Forrest commit impressed John Wolyniec over the winter when he worked with the U-19 team earning him a shot with RB2 in preseason. He has not thrown away his shot proving to be a key energy spark off the bench drawing a penalty in his debut. He got his first start vs Charleston scoring a goal which earned him a spot on the USL team of the week.

New York Red Bulls U-23

The U-23 team kicked off its season with a close loss to a talented and experienced FC Motown team and followed that up with a win vs Cedar Stars Rush. The U-23’s are a mix of former academy players such as Kevin O’Toole as well as local college players like Maurice Williams of Seton Hall and Peter Stroud of Duke.

Stroud is an interesting name. The younger brother of former Red Bull Jared Stroud and a former Academy player who left to join West Ham United before returning to America with Duke. Stroud is a smart number 6 midfielder who is not afraid to put in a hard tackle. He will have to get better at playing quicker when receiving it on the half turn however some of that will come as he gets reacquainted with the Red Bull system.

Another player to keep an eye on is O’Toole. He has been utilized in the attack early on which is a testament to his overall ability on the ball. He favors his left but is able to use both feet and be a threat on either wings or tucked inside as a center mid. At the next level he probably projects as a do everything outside back and it would be good to see him get some minutes there with the U-23s. He will complete his senior year at Princeton and should be a Red Bull 2 prospect this time next year.

Red Bulls Academy

Due to covid restrictions it has been tough to follow the progress of the academy so it was good to get a chance to watch the U-15’s and U-17’s play against NYCFC in the inaugural New York Academy Derby on a well-produced stream with commentary from David Gass and Connor Lade.

The U-15’s started the day with a 2-0 win. The clear stand out of the game was Nate Worth, a 2007 playing up a year. This is a prospect to watch out for he may be on a longer developmental path compared to a Bento Estrela who is very physically mature but his skill and IQ were apparent right from the start. He capped off a terrific game with an exceptional goal.

The U-17 game saw NYCFC go down a man putting the game fully in Red Bull control. Austin Brummett started and showed that despite being age eligible for U-17 he is well beyond that level.

In an important bit of academy news, Bleacher Report has covered the club in its The Academy series, which provides greater insight into the homestay program being developed by the Red Bulls as they recruit youth talent from across the nation.