17-year-old Caden Clark rescues New York Red Bulls again in dream start to MLS career

Caden Clark - congrats - teammate

Seventeen-year-old Caden Clark scored his first MLS goal literally on the day his New York Red Bulls first-team contract became official.

He followed that up with an even more sensational equalizer in the Red Bulls' 1-1 draw against Toronto FC on Wednesday night. And now less than a week into his meteoric rise, veteran defender Tim Parker finds himself taking to social media to try and keep his precocious teammate's feet on the ground.

To which Clark has a response as devastating as it is innocent, at least when directed at a 27-year-old:

"I love Tim," Clark said. "He’s like one of the dads on the team."

Such is life in the upside-down reality that marks Clark's entrance to top-flight soccer, where everything looks absurdly easy and even the opposing goalkeeper sings your praises after robbing his team of two points in their pursuit of the Supporters' Shield.

"I wish I made the save but sometimes you need to appreciate the game and good goals being scored and I think tonight, this young guy had a banger, so congrats to him," said Toronto's Quentin Westberg. "It’s just unfortunate it happened against us but in the end, I love soccer, when I look back, I think it’s a beautiful goal.”

It's a reality literally no one in the league's 25-year history has inhabited before, with Clark becoming the first MLS Homegrown Player to score in his first two MLS matches.

"I think it’s very, very cool that I did that, Clark said. "But we’ve got bigger things to worry about."

And it's a reality those with Parker's experience know won't last forever, at least not at this absurd pace, even if Clark is on the fast track to joining other talented young Americans in Europe.

At the same time, while the immediate success of young players is rare, it's not wholly unheard of. And interim manager Bradley Carnell would be foolish to try and stifle it.

"It’s a kid playing high right now; high on life and high on the energy of making his debut, and things are falling into place," Carnell said. "And yeah, he has certain qualities. And when all of this comes together and a kid’s got a chucker in his boots, yeah, there’s wonders that can happen."

Sometimes players are older on the field than they are off of it. Clark's postgame interview suggested as much. Most of it included satisfactory but not particularly revelatory answers. Then suddenly, he was asked to describe the thought process that led to him unloading on a bombastic left foot.

"I found the space between the center backs and the sixes, and Mark played a great ball to me," Clark said. "And I had space to turn. And my touch kind of beat the defender. And he had to make a decision to follow me or not. And he didn’t. So I saw the space. ... .

"My mind was pretty set on hitting it once I got open. Everything was kind of set up for it. So I think it was … it wasn’t bad."