A combined U18 and U16 New York Red Bulls Academy team defeated a U16 Atlas (Mexico) team by a score of 2-1 in a hard fought battle Saturday night at Red Bull Arena. The match took place immediately following the New York Red Bulls 3-1 victory over the Colorado Rapids and featured members from two clubs well renowned for developing premiere young talent.
The Red Bulls got off to an early start when they were awarded a penalty kick for an Atlas hand ball that occurred in the box. Brandon Allen gave the Red Bulls their first goal, placing the penalty kick in the right hand corner of the net. The early goal was important in establishing the Red Bulls’ game plan and instilling confidence in the players and coaches. “It was a ‘settle-in’ goal,” said defender Bryan Gallego. “Everyone’s stressed, excited, and amped up. It got us to relax and settle in.”
WATCH: Battle del Toro match recap
Allen found the net again in the 44th minutes to increase the Red Bulls’ lead to 2-0 over Atlas. Allen connected off a great pass by Kyle McCord on the left wing, scoring a nearside goal. Allen received high praise from head coach Paul O’Donnell after the match. “[Allen] is a pure goal scorer. It’s great to have him in the club,” said O’Donnell.
The Red Bulls were able to come close to extending their lead on several occasions through the second half, but were unable to do so. In second half stoppage time, Erick de la Cruz scored for Atlas off of a free kick by heading the ball over the head of Red Bulls goalkeeper Max Brown from 18 yards out bringing the final tally to 2-1.
Atlas earned the honor of playing in Red Bull Arena by winning the Red Bull Battle Del Toro last month in Texas. This competitive three-day tournament featured four U16 teams from Texas and four from Mexico showcasing some of both countries’ best young talent. Atlas defeated Chivas de Gaudalajara by a score of 2-1 to earn the trip to New York. There was a special connection for the two sides, as Red Bulls Designated Player Rafa Marquez came up through the Atlas youth system and began his professional career for the historic Guadalajara-based club.
“International play is great for the club, the organization, and the academy,” said O’Donnell. “I think we’re definitely making strides. And playing inside the best soccer stadium in the country really helps to separate us from the other academies out there.”
Red Bull Academy Lineup: Santiago Castano (Max Brown 75’), Paul Ehrenworth (Tommy Haskel 74’), Kyle Roach, Bryan Gallego, Richmond McCarthy (Brandon Alvarado 75’), Christian Johnson (Bolu Akinyode 40’), Sean Davis (Antonio Matarazzo 75’), Dan Metzger (Arun Basuljevic 73’), Mike Innocenzi (Amando Moreno 65’), Kyle McCord (Ross Tetro 62’), Brandon Allen.
Goals: RBNY: Allen 2 (5’ PK, 45’ McCord). Atlas: de la Cruz 90+