Red Bulls Academy Coach Q & A: Samuel Castellanos

Academy Cover Photo

Samuel Castellanos was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He played soccer for the U.S. youth national teams from the age of 14 til he was 17. He is a graduate of the University of South Florida and has played professionally in Honduras in their first division for C.D. Montagua and Deportes Savio. Samuel is currently the head coach of the U-18/19 age group.

What is your soccer background?

I played my youth soccer at various clubs in the Philadelphia area. The most renown club was FC DELCO towards the tail end of my youth career. I was able to win a National Championship at U18, U19, and U23 age groups with the club. I played collegiately at Rutgers University for two years and transferred to the University of South Florida and finished my collegiate career there.  After college, I played professionally in Honduras in the first division and also had a stint with the Philadelphia Kixx who played in the Major Indoor Soccer league.

What motivated you to get involved with coaching?

 Soccer has always been a part of my life and it has given me so many opportunities that I just wanted to give back to the community and help kids have an opportunity to be a part of New York Red Bulls. I have been fortunate to have been coached by so many influential people in the game, which helped me ignite that passion to be on the coaching side of things.

What do you see as the most important part of your job within the Red Bulls player development model?

It is all about culture! The most important thing is teaching these kids what it is to be a part of such a prestigious organization, to be grateful that we have what we have, and to take advantage every single day of the opportunity they have to play at the New York Red Bulls. The next important piece is preparing these kids for the next level of soccer through a high-level competitive environment to help transition into college, USL, or first- team soccer. 

How do you see your role?

I see it as preparing academy players for the transition into college, USL, and first-team soccer. Each player has a different path, whether it’s going to college first then into our professional environment, or straight into the pros, but it’s our job as a staff to prepare these kids for the next step and guide them in the right direction.

What upcoming events are you excited about?

I am very excited about the new tiered Developmental Academy League since we will have many more high-level games.

What is the one soccer session that has impacted your teams the most?

 I don’t think it is necessarily one session that impacts the team but more so a body of work throughout the year that hopefully gets you to where you want to be. The principal of high pressing is a staple that is most apparent and impactful within all the teams in the academy.

What is your most memorable soccer moment as a coach?

I don’t have one moment that pops out but my progression as a coach and the experiences I’ve gone through so far have been unforgettable.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

I love seeing players that I have worked with push on into the professional ranks. Whether it was former academy players, or college players that I have worked with and seeing them play in Major League Soccer.

What is the most important lesson you want your players to learn?

Humility. Being aware of how lucky they are to be a part of this organization, having great facilities with all the resources needed to be successful. Not every kid has this opportunity and to take advantage of it every time they step foot in the facility.

What are your biggest takeaways from this past academy season?

The biggest takeaway is to keep nurturing the relationships I make with all the players in the academy. We forget that we are having such a huge impact on their young careers, so taking more advantage of the contact time we do have with these kids and learning more about them to help guide them in the right direction.

What are you looking forward to the most in the fall?

Coaching a new group of kids. Getting to know them, creating that relationships with them and hopefully making them better people.

What would you say to parents and players who are thinking about joining Red Bulls academy?

 It’s a great place to be in regard to culture and putting young players in a high-level competitive environment. We have a professional pathway and look to reward our young players with a chance of actually moving up the ranks. Great energetic coaches on staff and most importantly it is cost free.