The New York Red Bulls’ youth movement is on full display in Arizona camp.
With the first team at home for CONCACAF Champions League, four Red Bulls academy players joined the New York’s preseason camp and received their most significant minutes on Wednesday against Houston Dynamo.
Kevin O’Toole, Zach Ryan, Kazu Shigenobu and goal scorer Omir Fernandez each played 45 minutes, with significant impact on the game.
“We got some good performances from young guys,” head coach John Wolyniec said. “Some academy guys like Omir Fernandez and Kazu [Shigenobu] so I’m definitely happy about that and the other [academy] guys too.”
Fernandez, who scored his first goal with the senior team before setting up New York’s equalizer, was thrilled with the opportunity.
“You want to make an impact as an academy player,” Fernandez said. “I was glad to get an assist and a goal. It’s a great feeling, I enjoyed the moment a lot.”
For Fernandez and the academy players, the experience to train at the highest level, play against MLS competition and the chance to prove themselves in front of the coaches has been invaluable.
“With the academy I have to be a leader and here I have to prove myself,” Fernandez said. “These guys are pushing me. Physically, mentally, everything. I’m enjoying every single moment.”