On Saturday, August 29, both New York Red Bulls and New York Red Bulls II took the field to compete against their respective opponents, New England Revolution and Loudoun United FC.
In those matches, three out of the four teams had at least one player that played in the Red Bulls’ Regional Development School (RDS).
“This night was an important moment for players currently within our RDS and Pre-Academy systems, as for the first time, there were RDS alumni wherever they looked,” Senior Manager of Player Development Simon Barrow said. “We’ve had a number of former RDS players grace the MLS and USL stages before, but never on this scale, and only once before on opposing teams.”
New York Red Bulls midfielder Ben Mines, who participated in RDS for two years, notched his first assist for the club, finding Red Bulls Academy product Omir Fernandez to give the club a 1-0 lead in the match. On the other side of that, Red Bulls Academy graduate Henry Kessler, who participated in RDS for four years, was making his second appearance for the Revolution in his first professional season.
This is not the first time that RDS graduates have faced off against each other on the pitch. On September 27, 2017, former New York Red Bulls midfielder Tyler Adams played against fellow United States Men’s National Team teammate Russell Canouse. Adams scored his first career Major League Soccer goal in the match.
In the other match, NYRB II forward Jake Lacava scored his first two professional goals in a 3-2 victory over Loudoun United. Lacava participated in RDS for three years and most recently graduated from Red Bulls Academy. NYRB II captain Chris Lema, an RDS player for two years and a Red Bulls Academy graduate, was anchoring the midfield and made his 66th appearance for the club, which is the all-time record. Finally, NYRB II goalkeeper Alex Bobocea was on the bench. This marked five former RDS players playing in these two professional matches and all making an impact on the field.
With the five professionals taking the field, it shows that today’s youth players can make it to the professional game someday, no matter what their path is.
“It’s so valuable for today’s youth players to be able to look up to these role models and recognize that the pathway is legitimate,” Barrow said. “What was especially cool was the fact that each of these young professionals took a slightly different path.”