From an offseason signing's perspective, it was a quiet one for the New York Red Bulls heading into the 2019 season. The biggest talking point, rather, was US national team midfielder Tyler Adams moving to Red Bull Leipzig of Germany’s Bundesliga.
The Homegrown Player, signed Jan. 26 after starring in NCAA soccer at Wake Forest, went down low to get head home an insurance tally from 12 yards out. It was the 20-year-old’s ninth appearance of the year, having already made three starts.
More than anything, the tally speaks to New York's continued willingness and ability to build from their academy instead of always going to the international market for impact players.
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Originally from the Bronx, this was Fernandez’s second goal for the Red Bulls. He previously found net during a 4-2 loss at Liga MX side Santos Laguna during a Concacaf Champions League quarterfinal second-leg matchup on March 13.
Fernandez has floated in and out of the matchday 18-man roster under head coach Chris Armas, but seems firmly entrenched now. He’s made the cut for every game since an April 21 visit to the New England Revolution.
"Omir Fernandez was the third sub, we had to be mindful not to burn it too early. We know in the final third he's so clever," said Armas after the game.
During his freshman year at Wake Forest, Fernandez was a super-sub, then was named the ACC Offensive Player of the Year in 2018. He had 12 goals and six assists last fall for the Demon Deacons, pushing the desire to sign early. Fernandez also has U.S. youth international experience with the U-18s and U-20s.
"As a sub you're always trying to make an impact, you're trying to help the team win, and to add that extra goal, in those dying minutes when we need it the most, it's a great feeling," Fernandez told reporters after the game. "I feel like it would have been better at home with our fans to celebrate, but away will have to do. It's a moment I will never forget."