Red Bulls Reader is proud to launch a new series of posts that will focus on our successful academy, specifically those Academy players competing in college this fall.  As part of that coverage, we have tasked a few Academy products to submit blog posts from time to time, to give up an update on how their season is going, how the Academy has helped their progress, and anything else that comes up.  We kick off that coverage with a splash, as Matt Kassel checks in from Maryland, last year’s NCAA Champs.  Kassel’s entry is after the jump.

My name is Matt Kassel and I am currently a sophomore at the University of Maryland. As a freshman I got to experience the thrill of winning the 2008 NCAA national championship in men’s soccer. Soccer has always been an integral part of my life and my parents often joked that my playing career began in the womb! I was born October 30, 1989 and was introduced to soccer immediately. My dad, Tim, played, coached and worked professionally in soccer so I was always around the game.  At the age of four I got acquainted with many international soccer players because my Dad was the director of operations for the 1994 World Cup. Even as a little kid, I knew that soccer would be an important part of my life.

After the World Cup, my father went on to become the director of operations of the MetroStars where again I got to experience training amongst many great professionals such as Tony Meola, Tab Ramos and Giovanni Savarese on a regular basis.  My Dad coached my team, the Bridgewater Soccer Metros for many years where I played as an attacking center midfielder until I joined the Red Bulls Academy in 2005. My first year with the Academy brought me many great experiences as well with us winning the national championship under Paul O’Donnell. I not only acquired great skills from the intense training but also gained many great friendships. The Academy helped prepare me for the intensity of Division I soccer and also helped me to continue to grow and perfect my skills and ability enough to be part of the U-18 and U-20 National teams.

Playing Division I soccer in the ACC is a humbling experience because of the intense competition. I quickly learned how to acclimate to such intensity under the coaching of Sasho Cirovski.  Sasho expects 100% all the time from his players and truly prepares us from day one to act like champions. So much of soccer as well as any sport is psychological and Sasho knows how to create team chemistry amongst a diversified mix of players.

kasselmdfinalsWe are currently in preseason and as you can imagine it’s not all fun and games!  Having 2- a- days is never an easy thing and the intense heat only makes it more difficult.  Just ask Jeremy Hall how it was while he was down here.  Speaking of Jeremy, he is a good friend of mine and we have a great relationship.  When the Red Bulls drafted him I was very excited because I knew it would be a great experience for him.  Even though this season hasn’t been the best for the Red Bulls, I still think Jeremy is doing well.

So far we have had two scrimmages, one against American University and the other against Villanova.  We tied American 1-1 as it wasn’t our best performance but that could be expected since it was our first game.  It was a very hot day and playing at 1:00 pm is never an easy task, especially on the road, but it was a great game to start our preparation for the season.  Villanova played a very physical game against us which we expected since we are the defending NCAA Champions and every opposing team wants their chance at playing us. We came out of the game with a 1-0 victory, which was a great win for us.  I actually didn’t play in this game because the day before I was in the hospital.  Unfortunately I got an elbow to the face the day before the game during training and had to get 18 stitches beneath my eyebrow. It’s pretty ugly looking but we’ll make it work as we are now preparing for our big season opener against UCLA on Friday September 4th.  Playing at home is always a fun time here because our fans are incredible!  The game will be sold out so it’s going to be a great environment for the match.  If anyone is around the area I suggest you come by for a great night of soccer!

Well that’s all I have for now, be sure to check back on the website for my next blog!




  1. Ken Says:

    nice article and good luck to Matt

  2. lakaix15 Says:

    When will we sign this terp? With stammler and Hall on the team it would only be better if we signed Matt too. I really wish Matt was playing with us. Cant wait to see his next entry maybe hell talk about one day playing for the red bulls!!!!

    • lou Says:

      I wish this thread was called- red bulls insider with matt kassell, you can get rid of the academy part and just sign this kid.

  3. YaBoy Says:

    I’m not much of a college soccer fan, but it looks like I should start rooting for the Terps. Might as well bring him in, he has history with us. Good luck to him.

  4. USMNT FRANK Says:

    what a great read…this kid is class

  5. FootyFan Says:

    Great to learn more about this young player with tremendous potential. As a RB (Academy) fan we’ve been watching Matt – and we are eager to see him succeed during his Sophomore year at University of MD.

  6. Alex Says:

    Really have a lot of respect for this kid. He is the real deal and hope to see him soon on the first team. Good luck for a great season at Maryland!

  7. ChrisH Says:

    i am looking forward to watching matt score against us in the upcoming seasons

  8. Petke fan Says:

    Hope they sign him, hope mls and their dumb rules don’t blow it again.

  9. Will Says:

    Thats my cousin

  10. Linda Says:

    Great article Matt. When I am at Jenn’s in Severna Park, I will have to come see a game. Love ya Aunt Linda

  11. Eddy j Says:

    Hey Matt congrats.. And hope for the best in ur future.. Take care.

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