Academy players watch as Dane Richards fights for the ball.

Academy players watch as Dane Richards fights for the ball.

A colleague from another team jokingly commented to RBR while observing practice yesterday, “Yeah, we brought 28 players. You guys brought 70.”

He was right – to a point. Though it is true that we have a number of players walking around in Red Bulls gear in Bradenton, many of them are from our U16 and U18 Academy Teams, which have been here since last Thursday preparing for their season. They are retuning to New Jersey tomorrow.

“It’s been great,” said U18 head coach Paul O’Donnell. “Getting away from the cold weather and the snow up north, training twice a week and having the opportunity to get to know each other has been invaluable. The players are getting fitter and stronger.”

Yesterday, the U16s and U18s squared off against their counterparts at the IMG Academy. The U16s earned a 3-0 win while the U18s fell, 3-1. However, results aside, the main point of the trip was to help team-build as the squads prepare for their opening matches against the Baltimore Bays on Feb. 7 at NJIT in the first game of the U.S. Development Academy League season.

Prior to their matches against the IMG Academy, the players were able to take in a first team practice in the morning. They also saw two of their U18 teammates, St. Cyr Widner and Shiroc Jean Baptiste training with the first team.

“The guys are really starting to come together and now that they are able to see the first team training, it’s great that we’re all in the same place.”

O’Donnell hopes that this trip – something more common in European systems – will be adopted more often for academies in the U.S. What do you all think about this opportunity for our players?


3 Responses to “THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT”

  1. Eugene Says:

    Great! I can’t wait until my son is old enough for me to put him into the Red Bulls system.

  2. anthony Says:

    That’s nice they all got to look at the side they won’t be playing for ever because we dont graduate players to the first team from the academy.

    Kills me we have such a great youth program and no avenues to or will to include them in the first team set up. We’d rather send em to college for an education and forget about it.

  3. Jonathan Says:

    i was at the practice and the u-17 national game

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