It didn’t take long for Matt Miazga to make his mark on MLS.
Now in his third year as a professional, Miazga has arguably been New York Red Bulls' best defender and unquestionably one of the brightest young prospects for the US national team. At just 20 years old, Miazga has already emerged as one of the premier center backs in the league and a fan favorite amongst the Red Bull Arena faithful.
On Wednesday, ESPNFC reported that Miazga has made a move to Chelsea in the English Premier League. MLSsoccer.com brings you an inside look at New York’s burgeoning star with 10 things you need to know about young Matt Miazga.
1. Growing Up Red Bull:In 2009, Miazga began his ascent through the ranks of the Red Bulls Academy program. The Clifton, New Jersey native proved his worth rather quickly, first training at the senior level at just 16 years of age. “To play for my hometown club is a dream come true and to play in Red Bull Arena, the best arena with the best fans around me, is awesome.”
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2. Future US national team star?Miazga is one of the most promising young talents in the US pool, putting in a standout performance at this past summer’s Under-20 World Cup. Miazga has also represented the United States at the U-18 and U-23 levels, earning the praise of youth US coach Tab Ramos and current Red Bulls boss Jesse Marsch. He was called into the senior national team for their World Cup qualifiers in November.
3. Dual Citizen:A US call-up may well be in his future (he was called up on Friday), but Miazga also holds a European passport by way of his parents, both natives of Poland. This leaves the center back eligible to represent either the US or Poland at the senior level. Miazga has suited up for Poland at the U-18 level and has yet to fully commit to either country. “I’m still young, so who knows what will happen,” Miazga said. “I’m definitely keeping the doors open, but I’m leaning towards the US.”
4. Role Models:Soccer took precedence over all else in the Miazga household, giving the youngster an opportunity to watch elite defenders in world soccer. “I always liked Carles Puyol; his passion, his fire, the way he leads. As I got older I started looking at Gerard Pique, Thiago Silva, now Raphael Varane. I like to watch young center backs at the top teams to see what they do and how they compete with the world’s best.”
5. Hoarding Silverware:Historically, the Red Bulls have been one of MLS’s least successful teams in terms of trophies. However, the past few years have seen a change of fortunes for New York, as the club has lifted the Supporters’ Shield twice in the past three seasons. Miazga signed with the first team in 2013, meaning he is 2-for-3 in winning silverware in his pro career. Not a bad ratio.
6. Nothing but soccer:Miazga is Jersey through and through, but don’t expect him to don a Yankees cap or a Jets jersey anytime soon. Unlike many of his old schoolmates, Miazga had little interest in any sport besides his beloved soccer. While his teammates partake in fantasy football, Miazga simply can’t be bothered. It’s all soccer, all the time. Need further proof? Just check out that “home run” swing at Yankee Stadium. “That one probably wouldn’t have made it out of the infield,” Long Island native Mike Grella joked.
7. Teen Tunes:Born in 1995, Miazga is one of those millennials everyone seems to love to talk about these days. His music taste reflects as much, touting the latest Fetty Wap and Drake songs on his iPod. Oh, and a little One Direction for good measure. “They have a few good songs, I’m not a fan of them,” Miazga told Big Apple Soccer. “But they have a few good songs, I’m not scared to say it.”
8. Irreplaceable Cog:Miazga started 24 matches during the regular season for New York this year. In the 10 matches he didn’t start? The Red Bulls were a ghastly 3-5-2. His time away at the U-20 World Cup also coincided with the club's worst run of form: an 0-4-1 stretch in May and June that saw the defense average two goals allowed per game.
9. Key Goal:Standing at 6-foot-3, Miazga often towers over the opposition. His head is often the target of service from set pieces, yet the defender has just one goal to his name over his 38 league, playoff, and cup appearances for the club. His lone goal? A glancing header that bested NYCFC’s Josh Saunders, ensuring a Red Bulls victory in their first trip to Yankee Stadium.
10. EPL love affair? Back in November FourFourTwo released an in-depth profile of Miazga, full of glowing praise for the youngster. Perhaps one of the juiciest tidbits in there was that he's reportedly received offers from Stoke City, Chelsea and Leicester City, but turned them down to ensure himself the chance to play week in, week out with the Red Bulls. It no appears that he will be making a move to one of those clubs in Chelsea.