UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J. – Jeremy Vuolo took a long, winding path to the New York Red Bulls.
The young goalkeeper, who’s competing for the No. 1 shirt, played collegiately at Hartwick and Syracuse, spent his summers between the sticks for Reading United of the PDL and then spent a year in Finland.
Now, the 24-year-old is suiting up for a team that plays about two hours from his hometown of Downington, Pa.
“My decision to come back was based solely on the opportunity it presented my career,” Vuolo told MLSsoccer.com. “I want to be in a position as a young goalkeeper to further my development and my career. The opportunity to come to the Red Bulls, knowing what they were looking for, it seemed to be a great fit.”
How that fit came to be is the “winding” part of the trip. Using some connections to the team, Vuolo had his name floated before sporting director Erik Solér and goalkeeper coach Todd Hoffard.
“My agent had a connection with Erik Solér – Erik was my agent’s agent if that makes sense – back when [my agent] was playing," Vuolo said. "My agent knew Erik so he sent my resume and videos over here and Red Bull was looking for 'keepers, obviously."
“I’ve had a relationship with Todd for the past six years with him being local, and through college when I played at Hartwick. Through knowing Todd and Erik, they were interested and gave me a call. They wanted to see if I was a good fit. Once they came and saw how I did in Finland, they were interested.”
Vuolo spent the past year with AC Oulu in Finland, which gave him both European experience and time off during this past autumn with the Veikkausliiga on break. Vuolo made the most of it, meeting up with Hoffard in Pennsylvania for several workouts.
Vuolo impressed, and AC Oulu gave him permission to seek out a new club.
Now he’s in New York with a legitimate shot at being the starting ‘keeper. His main competition currently is rookie Ryan Meara, who was taken in the second round of the MLS Super Draft. Chris Konopka, who made one start last year for the team, was in preseason camp last week and head coach Hans Backe told MLSsoccer.com that a trialist could be joining the team in Mexico.
Vuolo says that his mentality is to “push for No. 1 and compete” but he can see the upside in bringing in a veteran.
“I think they might be looking for a quick solution, to bring in an experienced veteran,” he said. “That’d certainly benefit with me, to train with him every day and learn. But they haven’t told me to come in and be complacent and I don’t plan on it.”