Red Bulls Academy started the year off promising with both U-15 and U-17 squads qualifying for the top division at the Generation Adidas Cup, where they would be competing against top international academies.
Unfortunately, in mid-March everything took a pause due to the ongoing pandemic, but despite that Academy Director Sean McCafferty takes a lot of positives out of this stranger year.
“I think the biggest takeaway that even through a pandemic and challenging times that we were still able to drive forward with our initiatives off the field and continue to move the needle there,” McCafferty said.
This season saw the Academy begin a widespread number of new initiatives that will continue to help the players continue their development both on and off the field. First, the Academy offered transportation for players through RideShare. This provided safe transportation for players to make it to and from Red Bulls Training Facility for daytime training. Then the Academy announced Scholar Athletes Leadership Academy (SALA) as their preferred education partner. The school will be offer tutoring, SAT prep, and provide mentorship in leadership and life skills.
Despite the pandemic, the academy had a successful year on the field. They combined for a 60-13-6 record this fall and scored 325 goals.
“The players and their application and mentality has been first class and with the restrictions and travel and scheduling we have managed to be innovative,” McCafferty said.
With all the uncertainty surrounding a season, McCafferty just wanted to the players and staff to get back to doing what they loved.
“In mid-March, obviously with the pandemic hitting the lockdown came, but you know really pleased with the staff, everybody just had a mindset that once we got back up and running, it was just let’s do as much as we can. Let’s get as much training in as we can and as many games as we can,” McCafferty said.
On a year that was tough for everyone, it’s hard to pinpoint certain best moments, but McCafferty was extremely pleased with the play of the academy players with New York Red Bulls II.
“Obviously you talk about the success of the young guys on New York Red Bulls II, which is a massive silver lining of the bubbles and the cohorts, because so many academy players made their professional debuts,” McCafferty said.
The nine Red Bulls Academy players that made their professional debuts combined for 2,456 minutes played and totaled five goals and five assists. “The great thing was they were just not participants, they were contributors,” McCafferty said.
With this year almost in the rear-view mirror, McCafferty is reflecting on this year, but also looking forward to 2021.
“We’ve got some big initiatives in regards how to we really want to evolve our scouting department and make sure we are identifying and recruiting all the top talents and then the byproduct of that is the expansion of our homestay program,” McCafferty said.
Red Bulls Academy had a successful fall season and McCafferty is thankful for everyone that played a part in making this season possible.
“I’m thankful we got to train, and we got back to playing games and seeing everybody at training,” McCafferty said. “Most of all, I’m thankful to be a part of this amazing club.”