Red Bulls Invite Academy U18s to Preseason Camp

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

by RUSS McKENZIE

It is no secret that part of the job coach Jesse Marsch took on in his role as New York Red Bulls boss is to get the development engine running. For many years, the concept was simply forgotten. New York was less known for developing players for their senior team, and more well known for bringing in big names to fill seats and sell jerseys.

Since Marsch has come aboard, that philosophy has changed — and a big part of his focus is the Red Bulls’ academy system.

That philosophy is alive and well this preseason.

Right now, the Red Bulls U18s have joined the senior team while they prepare for the 2016 season. “There’s a big connection with the academy at this club now,” Marsch said. “It’s a big emphasis of ours, a big part of our identity.”

According to Marsch, a big part of that connection is a shared player experience. To help create that, New York is doubling down on their youth commitment by starting a new program within the club. “We’re starting a bit of a mentoring program. It includes our first team coaches with our academy coaches, and also includes our first team players with some of our academy players,” Marsch said after training on Monday.

“We want the academy to get to know our guys,” Marsch continued. “We think one of the best (development) resources we have at this club is our players, and the men we have in our player pool. They’re great leaders, they’re good guys to learn from. It will be a great experience for our academy kids to get to know them and hear from them a little bit.”

At the helm of the Red Bulls’ U18 team is Simon Nee, who joined the club in 2006. Nee has coached the U23 team that won the NPSL league title in 2014, a team that also included New York midfielder Sean Davis. Nee also had success coaching the U16s, leading them to win the Premier Division of Generation Adidas Cup. Marsch had nothing but praise for the

Englishman. “Simon is a really intense coach. He’s really committed to teaching the style of play that we’re trying to build here at Red Bull. He does a really good job with his teams, and has great rapport with his players.”

While in Florida, Nee’s U18s will observe and participate in full training sessions. They’ll also get a chance to get in some game action, facing the OCSC’s U18s later this week.