Friday, September 9th saw Red Bulls 2 host their third annual Futures Night, a celebration of youth players currently representing the Pre-Academy teams.
In a central, and recurring theme of the event, Red Bull 2 players wore custom jerseys with the names of Pre-Academy players woven into the fabric of the design. These one-off jerseys honor the youngest players in the Red Bulls system, recognizing them as the foundation of the club, and hoping to predict some of the potential stars of the future.
Futures Night has quickly become a highlight of the Red Bulls’ USL season. In last year’s iteration, Serge Ngoma scored a last-minute winner, and celebrated wildly with the Pre-Academy players. Serge has since gone on to tally 7 MLS appearances at the age of just 16, as well as scoring his first goal at the first team level. In making his MLS breakthrough this season, he truly embodies the essence of Futures Night.
Covid-19 restrictions had previously limited any additional activities surrounding the event, but with such rules now lifted, the 2022 Futures Night was bigger and better than ever. Players participated in a pre-game rally tunnel, as well as being first team mascots, giving them a field level view of a professional game.
Additionally, these talented young athletes provided the half-time entertainment, by playing small-sided scrimmages on the field during the break. With a season high attendance of almost 800 fans at Montclair State University, this was an incredible opportunity to experience what it feels like playing in front of a large crowd – an experience that will serve them well in later life.
Former Pre-Academy standout, Erick Ruiz, featured in the starting line-up, and former RDS standouts Bento Estrella and Nate Worth joined from the bench, the latter doing so at just 15 years of age. More than 20 former RBNY youth players have now represented RB2, to clearly illustrate that Red Bulls’ Pre-Academy pathway to the pros is not only viable, but proven.
RB 2 got off to a fast start, with Michael Knapp scoring the go-ahead goal in just the 4th minute. The young team could not keep the lead, and despite battling hard for the full 90 minutes, ultimately fell to a heavy loss to The Miami FC. The enthusiasm of the young crowd was not dampened, however, with Pre-Academy players staying behind long after the final whistle to meet their mentors in the hope of grabbing a game worn jersey with their name on.
Ultimately, it wasn’t the result the fans came for, but it remained an experience of a lifetime for these youngsters. The hope is that one day, it will be their name and number on the back of the jersey, rather than simply embedded in the design. Countless before them have shown that this dream is achievable.
For information on how to register for RDS try-outs, and be identified as a potential Pre-Academy player, check out the winter training schedule here: https://www.newyorkredbulls.com/youth/rds/clinics . Attendance is strictly subject to try-out, to maintain the most competitive environment possible.