After a strong debut season with New York Red Bulls II in 2020, Jake LaCava continued his success in his second year with the club.
The 20-year-old Connecticut native scored a career-high six goals during the 2021 USL Championship season, ranking third on the team. His four assists ranked second behind midfielder Jeremy Rafanello.
Beyond the stat sheet, LaCava’s impact this season can be found through his leadership, being one of the veterans on the roster.
“Obviously in my first year I had older players there to look up to and kind of help me through things,” LaCava said. “This year being one of the older guys on the team, taking more of a leadership role and taking more responsibility and gaining that experience, I definitely think I added that to my game.”
LaCava joined a select group in NYRB II history as one of just seven players to record 30 or more appearances in a single season. He also ranked third on the team in minutes with 2,401. That consistency on the field led to career highs in games played, starts, minutes, goals, and assists.
For LaCava, getting into situations where he could create havoc for opposing defenses was a focus for him throughout the season.
“It was a bit harder for me at times this season to get into those moments,” LaCava said. “I worked through that and then when I’m in those moments, letting those attributes that I have shine I think was the biggest thing. Any time you’re in those moments and whether you mess up or not, that’s attributing to working on those moments and altogether just sharpening them for next season and even later on in games.”
He also made an impact defensively, ranking fifth on the team in tackles (49), fourth in tackles won (31), and fifth in duels won (294).
“There’s other things on the field that you’re constantly adding to your game here,” LaCava said. “I’d say experience, leadership, and those values of leadership were the biggest things that I added this season.”