FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – New York Red Bulls forward Juan Agudelo is in high demand these days.
After playing the first half for the USA Under-20 national team on Thursday in a scoreless draw against a South Florida select team, the 18-year-old headed to the airport for a cross-country flight to join Bob Bradley’s US national team camp at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.
“As soon as I start thinking ‘a lot too soon,’ I start to change the subject in my mind,” Agudelo told MLSsoccer.com on Thursday. “I want to stay modest and humble the whole time. I don’t want to be one of those players who starts off good and then, throughout his career, slows down. I want to keep improving.”
Agudelo plays on the right wing in Thomas Rongen’s 4-3-3 set-up with the Under-20s, where his duties involve taking players on and sending in crosses from the flank. Bradley employs him as the support forward in a 4-4-2 formation of the senior team, asking him to check back in order to get the ball on his feet.
[inline_node:323547]He executed that role to perfection in South Africa in November, starting and finishing the play for the game-winning goal in his first ever appearance for the senior side.
“Everybody going to the [senior USMNT] camp is going to work their hardest to be on the roster to face Chile [on Jan. 22],” Agudelo said. “I’m going there to work hard, hopefully start that game and get another goal.”
In addition to making his USMNT debut in South Africa, Agudelo joined the Generation adidas team for a three-match tour of Madrid, Spain during the offseason. His performances earned him the attention of La Liga clubs, but the Red Bulls have been adamant that they are not interested in offers for their prized jewel.
Agudelo says that New York manager Hans Backe has not yet given him any indication as to how his role with the club may change in 2011, but he says he’s hoping to learn more when the Red Bulls training camp kicks off.
“I just want to keep improving and getting better,” said Agudelo. “That’s just what I’ve been doing my while life and I feel like I’ve been getting better each and every year.
“I’ve been improving really fast and I’m trying to stay focused, keep on doing what I love and hopefully get some more playing time with the Red Bulls.”