Can you hear that?
No, not the play-by-play call of Caden Clark’s second goal for the Red Bulls, or the thousands of people typing their “Caden Clark is ridiculous” tweets Wednesday night.
No, it’s the sound of another MLS talent being whisked away to Europe.
Clark’s whirlwind week for the Red Bulls can be viewed with both excitement and a bit of sadness.
The 17-year-old looks to be a great prospect, and has scored in each of his first two MLS appearances for RBNY. On the other hand, Clark — who was just recently promoted to the Red Bulls’ first team — will reportedly be moving to sister Bundesliga club RB Leipzig in January 2022.
His flame will be fleeting in New York.
Red Bulls fans are used to this cycle. Clark is directly following Tyler Adams’ footsteps, while Matt Miazga and Jozy Altidore were also both lured to Europe at the ages of 20 and 18 respectively. There is likely some exhaustion from fans with repeatedly selling talented youngsters, and maybe some are hesitant to truly buy into Clark with a move already looming.
Clark, though, looks bright enough to win over even the most stubborn supporters. And this team (9th out of 14 Eastern Conference teams in xG) needs all of the attacking talent it can get, even if it is on a temporary basis.
A quick overview of his USL highlights with Red Bulls II shows a deeply unselfish player with great passing vision and timing, but also enough quickness to worry defenders on his own in the final third.
The next 14 months or so for Clark — assuming he does move to Germany — will be both an integral part of his development and a chance to actually watch him play in the US. If you don’t think that’s significant just look at the career paths of Americans Gio Reyna, Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie and Chris Richards — none of them played a single minute in MLS before their initial moves to Germany.
In ten years’ time, if Clark is enjoying a career in Europe and as a US international, the clips of him scoring in a converted football stadium and empty field in East Hartford, Conn. as a teenager will be viewed with a smile and a chuckle. The moment a star was born.
For now, Clark is in MLS for another year-plus.
Don’t take it for granted.
NYCFC optimism after Parks performance
Between Maxi Moralez battling injury, Heber going down for the season with a torn ACL and Alexandru Mitrita being loaned to Al-Ahli Saudi FC until 2022, Ronny Deila has often been dealt a poor hand in his first season with NYCFC.
That list of obstacles got longer Wednesday night when the club announced midfielder James Sands was likely done for the remainder of the regular season with a fracture in his foot.
Keaton Parks, Sands’ midfield partner for much of this season, had his best game of the season after the injury was announced. From his typical defensive midfield position, Parks scored his second goal in three games (third overall), and showed off his tidy passing all night in a 1-1 tie against Orlando. Drifting into advanced areas from his (nominally) deep role, Parks created five shot-creating actions, per FBref, second only to Jesus Medina (six).
Unless Moralez misses more time, we may not see Parks move up the field to play as a No. 10, a role that seems sensible after his tremendous attacking display Wednesday. Regardless, Parks’ burgeoning offensive game is encouraging, and his attacking output will be much needed with Mitrita gone.
With Moralez expected back soon, the forthcoming Moralez-Parks-Ring triangle doesn’t sound all that bad — it actually sounds extremely balanced.
Parks’ attacking contributions are partly to thank for that.
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