The New York Red Bulls Under-18 academy team earned a 1-0 victory over the Orlando City SC U-18s on Wednesday evening in Orlando. After giving up the first goal, the Red Bulls tied things up with a goal from Ryan Mingachos before co-captain Jared Gilbey put away a penalty in the final minute.
The Red Bulls side, led by head coach Simon Nee, was in Florida this week for a preseason camp, coinciding with the Red Bulls First Team camp. The U-18s enter the Spring portion of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy, which kicks off on Sunday, March 6, the same day the MLS season begins.
“I thought we came out with the right intensity and our attitude and work rate was consistent throughout the game,” said Gilbey, one of the U-18 captains. “It was obviously nice to come back to win the game after going down 1-0 and I was happy I was able to get on the scoresheet and put away the game winning penalty. I think this game, although just a scrimmage, will give us confidence and momentum going into the spring season.”
As part of an effort to integrate Red Bull squads from top to bottom, the U-18 squad trained at the Omni resort in Florida before observing a first team training session on Monday evening. It was a chance for some of the academy’s brightest young talents to see how the process translates to the highest level, with U-18 head coach Simon Nee explaining how important it is for his team to get a close-up example of how things are done at the MLS level.
“[We’re here] to observe what a first team preseason session should look like: the speed of play, the quality within the session,” Nee said. “I thought it was excellent today and I hope our guys take a lot away from that.”
Marsch and his staff also hosted the U-18 side back at the hotel for team dinner where the youngsters had a chance to speak with the first team off the pitch. Captain Dax McCarty, sporting director Ali Curtis and others addressed the young side and explained what it means to be a part of the Red Bull family.
“It’s pretty obvious to everyone, whether it’s on the inside or the outside, that there’s a pretty big connection to the academy here at this club now,” Marsch stated. “It’s a big emphasis of ours; it’s part of our identity. Part of that is also making sure that there’s a shared player experience.”
“It has been a very intense but beneficial preseason here in Orlando,” continued Gilbey. “The team has really come together on and off the field. Physically, we are getting where we need to be, especially with the high pressing system we like to play. It was also nice to have our first real connection with the first team, as we watched them play and train, and had the opportunity to meet and get to know them.”
The Red Bulls Academy teams consistently rank amongst the top club teams in the nation. The U-18s enter the Spring season ranked fourth nationally by Top Drawer Soccer after a 10-2-1 record last Fall. The U-16s, U-14s and U-13s all rank first in the nation in the TDS rankings for their respective age groups.