It was a summer of winning trophies and making history for the New York Red Bulls Academy.
The program, which has helped mold a multitude of players such as Tyler Adams, Daniel Edelman and John Tolkin faced the great challenge of having an overwhelming amount of talent on display this summer.
The academy’s successful summer was highlighted by the U13 and U15 teams taking home trophies in their respective competitions, the Bassevelde Cup Tournament and the MLS NEXT Cup Tournament. The program also earned its second all-time MLS NEXT All-Star in Davi Alexandre.
U13 Team Crowned Bassevelde Cup Champions
Not only was the Red Bulls U13 team the first MLS club to attend the Bassevelde Cup Tournament in its 26-year history, but it was the first to take home the championship trophy.
The Bassevelde Cup, hosted in Belgium, is a yearly competition between the world’s top U13 academy teams. Historic clubs such as FC Barcelona, Real Madrid, Celtic, and others have been crowded champions of the three-day tournament.
The competition began with a group stage, where New York earned wins over SL Benefica and an all-star team of local Bassevelde talent, as well as a draw with PSV Eindhoven. The Red Bulls’ hot start earned a spot at the top of the group heading into the quarterfinals.
New York was treated to a match with Italian powerhouse Juventus to open the elimination round, but it did more than just show up for the opportunity. The U13s shocked many with a 1-0 win, putting themselves in the semifinals.
New York then recorded a 2-0 win over West Ham United in the semis to move within one win of glory.
With a capacity crowd of over 1,000 attending the final, the Red Bulls made history by taking down Belgium side Club Brugge NXT, 2-1. New York faced its first deficit in the tournament before it stormed back for the win.
“To have competed, and to have taken the trophy home, means that the New York Red Bulls Academy is taking steps in the right direction continuing to develop elite talent,” U13 Head Coach Juan BijKebbe said.
The victory not only put the Red Bulls Academy into the record books of the historic tournament, but it put the world on notice the program can play with the best of the best.
“The group made the entire club proud with their performances against top European competition,” Senior Manager of Academy Business Operations Ryan Brooks said. "We go to these events to compete and showcase what we can do. This group did just that."
U15 Team Tops MLS NEXT Cup Tournament
The New York Red Bulls U13 Academy team wasn’t the only one to come away with a trophy this summer. In the league’s second season, the U15 squad was crowned MLS NEXT Cup champions.
Heading into the MLS NEXT Cup, the Red Bulls were seen as a favorite to win the competition, earning a top-10 seed in the 64-team bracket after topping their division in the MLS NEXT regular season.
To kick off the tournament, the U15s earned a 2-0 win over Saint Louis Scott Gallagher. In foreshadowing of what was to come, Julian Hall and Tanner Rosborough were New York’s goal scorers in the clean sheet.
The Red Bulls then posted a 2-0 victory over the Colorado Rapids Academy. Hall secured a brace and goalkeeper Aidan Stokes recorded his second clean sheet of the tournament.
New York continued its dominance in the quarterfinals, topping Seattle Sounders Academy, 4-0. Paul Sokoloff netted the game’s first goal in the 47th minute, and the Red Bulls never looked back with Eric Palei, Gil De Souza and Desmond Chemweno also scoring goals in the commanding win. Stokes recorded his third clean sheet of the tournament.
With only four clubs still alive in the tournament, the Red Bulls were met with their toughest challenge yet in top-seeded LAFC. Despite facing its first deficit of the tournament, New York remained unfazed as Jaylen Lester sent the equalizer to the back of the net just before halftime to give the Red Bulls new life coming out of the break.
Following halftime, Hall recorded his fourth goal of the tournament to put his team up one. Later, Adri Mehmeti’s tally provided a cushion to give New York a 3-1 victory and send the club to the final.
New York was met by the tournament’s Cinderella team, CF Montreal, in the championship. The match was intense, with the teams heading into halftime scoreless. It wasn’t until five minutes remaining in regulation that Montreal scored the game’s first goal, but what looked like the game-winning goal did not last long.
Three minutes after conceding the goal to Montreal, Hall sent the equalizer into the goal. With six minutes of stoppage time to play, Rosborough provided the game winner to give New York the trophy and the title of MLS NEXT Cup Champions for the first time.
Davi Alexandre Named a 2023 MLS NEXT All-Star
Red Bulls Academy product Davi Alexandre was named to the 2023 MLS NEXT All-Star roster for the first time in his career. The defender spent most of the season competing with New York’s U17 squad, while also making appearances for New York Red Bulls II.
The Queens, N.Y., native is the second Red Bull to make the MLS NEXT All-Star roster. In the league’s inaugural season in 2022, it was midfielder Bento Estrela.
Alexandre has been with the Red Bulls Academy for multiple years, playing on the programs U14 and U15 teams, along with the U17 squad. On Aug. 3, 2022, he made his professional debut with the second team, becoming the fourth-youngest player to appear in a match in club history. The defender is set to join the first team on an MLS contract as a homegrown through the 2026 season.
Alexandre will make his first MLS NEXT All-Star appearance on July 19 at the Naval Academy’s Glenn Warner Soccer Facility at 10:30 a.m. ET. Coverage of the match can be found on the MLS NEXT TikTok profile, @mlsnext.
The summer of success for the Red Bulls Academy only scratches the surface to what this program is capable of moving forward. The already top-tier system will look to continue to win games and trophies, while also continuing to write new stories in the history books and produce athletes who will go on to have long professional careers.
“We're not going to get it all right. But what I do know is, we've told our sporting director and head of sport (that) our biggest problem is going to be, we can't sign everybody,” Red Bulls academy director Sean McCafferty said in an interview with MLS Next. “Our job is to give them big headaches because we have so much talent coming through. That's our market, that's our homestay program, the scouting, getting that right. So, we should be doing this. This should be a given.”