It’s been said many times before that any time a player is called up national team duties it is a tremendous learning opportunity for a young, up-and-comer. Red Bulls forward Juan Agudelo and defender Tim Ream fit that mold perfectly.
Playing alongside the likes of Jozy Altidore, Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan gives the 18-year-old Agudelo stellar on-the-job training when it comes to attacking on the national team’s front line. Whereas playing on a back line with defenders Carlos Bocanegra, Steven Cherundolo and in front of goalkeeper Tim Howard provides Ream with a similar lesson in training and on the pitch.
Each enters national team duties with the hopes of improving their game. Better positioning and developing a more physical style remain the focal points of Ream’s education on the international level, a point he reiterated after the US lost to Ecuador 1-0 at Red Bull Arena Tuesday night.
“You always have things to work on, and that’s something I need to work on,” Ream told MLSsoccer.com’s Kristian Dyer. “The [international game] is being more physical, winning balls in the air and being able to see both things – more than one thing at one time.”
Head coach Jurgen Klinsmann was quick to comment on Ream’s interest in developing his game and the young defender's hunger to learn.
“He’s one of the very promising center backs in this country and that’s why he’s in the squad," Klinsmann said. "He deserves to be in the squad and he’s extremely willing to learn. He’s a constant asker. He wants to know, ‘How do I get to the next level? What do I have to do?'"
The same can be said of the ever-growing play of Agudelo, who tallied 45 minutes in the entire second half against Ecuador and injected his youthful speed into the team’s skillful front line. As the youngest member on the roster, Agudelo’s progress has been slow and steady but not without encouraging highlights.
“Any time I get to go in the game it gives me a lot of experience,” Agudelo said, “and all I try to do is improve myself every time I step on the pitch.”
While the Red Bulls duo aims to step up for the national squad when their numbers are called, it’s back to business with New York Saturday when the team heads off to Kansas City for a 4 pm ET kick off on MSG. Even with only two weeks left, the race to the postseason remains a close one and New York will aim to take home three big points on the road before closing out its season against Philadelphia at Red Bull Arena on Oct. 20th.
Although the team is on the road for the matinee match, fans can still show their support by joining fellow Red Bulls fans at the team’s viewing parties in both NJ and NY. The NJ viewing party will be held at Mulligan’s in Hoboken, while the NY party will go down at the same time at The Football Factory at Legends. Both events start at 3pm ET. Drink specials, Red Bulls prizes and more will be available throughout the match at each of the viewing parties.