NEW YORK – He may be one of the shortest tenured players within the squad, but Alex Muyl already felt as if he had waited long enough.
Signing with the Red Bulls first team this past offseason, the Homegrown product strived to make his presence felt after rising through the youth ranks.
A standout at Georgetown, Muyl never had much doubt in his ability, but cracking a talented Red Bulls lineup would be no small task. That task became even more complicated during preseason, as an ankle injury forced the 20-year-old to the sidelines as his teammates prepared for the upcoming season.
That setback did little to faze a confident Muyl, as the young forward continued to battle, making an impression on teammates and coaches alike when he finally was able to step onto the pitch.
“He has earned the respect of his teammates at the highest level,” head coach Jesse Marsch said in his postgame press conference. “When he steps on the field, he gives everything he has. For a young guy, they’ve grown to love him, so it’s been easy for me to make the decision to put him on the field.”
A frequent selection off the bench, Marsch once again elected to throw Muyl into the match as a second half substitute, giving him his first taste of the New York derby.
“He just wanted me to bring energy and keep the game going in the same direction,” Muyl told NewYorkRedBulls.com. “I think he wanted to give me an opportunity to get more minutes.”
Entering the match with the result more or less decided, his introduction was far more than just a cameo appearance. The Manhattan-born Muyl, growing impatient with the “0” occupying his goal tally, picked quite the time and place to bag his first MLS goal.
“I lost it a bit, I was just going crazy,” he said with a laugh. “It was just a huge release for me. I’ve been wanting to score for a while now, but to be able to come here and do it in front of my family and friends, it was the perfect place to get it.”
It certainly felt apropos, as the kid from New York, desperate to break through, finally got his moment in the sun.
“Alex has been tremendous for us every time he’s come on,” captain Dax McCarty said. “He’s worked his butt off in training and he’s earned every opportunity that he’s gotten. So for him to score a goal against our crosstown rival, I’m so happy for him. I give that kid a ride to training every single day. He’s so humble, he works so hard; he’s got a really bright future ahead of him.”
Assisting his first MLS goal, forward Bradley Wright-Phillips could hardly hide his elation for Muyl.
“Amazing for him,” he said. “You could just see the delight on his face, like Chris Duvall last season. This place does something special for us. Duvall, Matt Miazga, these young guys come here and score. I’m happy for him. He’s worked hard in training and he deserves his spot right now.”
It wasn’t always an easy road for Muyl, and he acknowledges that plenty of work lies ahead. But as his teammates and coaches can attest to, good things don’t happen by accident.
“I just feel much more comfortable with coming on,” Muyl added. “There was a period where I was a bit nervous on the field, but I just want to be able to do whatever I can to help the team. If that means working hard in training and fighting for minutes, I just want to do whatever it takes.
“If my role stays the same or it changes, it doesn’t matter to me. I know that if my mentality is good, it’ll be good for the team and good for everybody.”
Playing just minutes from his childhood home, the goal and win were particularly sweet for Muyl, a lifelong Red Bull. And hey, if he was able to change a few minds in the process, that certainly doesn’t hurt either.
“It’s funny, he said a lot of his friends are season ticket holders for NYCFC,” McCarty said. “What better way to show them that they’re supporting the wrong team with that goal and that win.”