Caden Clark celebrating goal - Atlanta United FC vs. New York Red Bulls - 10.10.20
Adam Hagy

What to expect from Caden Clark in the New York Red Bulls midfield

Before last weekend, Caden Clark was probably a relative unknown to most MLS fans.

But the 17-year-old midfielder is generating buzz after a 1-0 win at Atlanta United, in which the New York Red Bulls rookie supplied a debut goal on a volley atop the 18-yard-box.

Aside from that highlight-reel moment, Extratime co-host David Gass gave some insight into what Clark could bring after watching him during his USL Championship days with New York Red Bulls II.

“He’s a high-coverage player, covers a ton of ground, really clean technically and I think you saw that from his goal,” Gass said. “Ball bouncing up, halfway up, awkward spacing and yet he’s still able to get his laces through it with enough power to get it into the back of the goal. You saw that all season with him. He’s always an option, but he’s always clean in his first touch and ready to go onto the second touch.

“I was talking with Doyle a little bit before the show and I think his best position is a little deeper on the field because he can be more effective and he’s not the final ball, wants to dribble a guy No. 10. But I think he’s a guy who can still create goals and still create chances.”

Extratime: Caden Clark is already the real deal

To sign Clark, RBNY had to trade $75,000 in General Allocation Money to Minnesota United for his rights. He was previously with the Barca Residency Academy in Arizona, though has hometown roots in Minnesota. 

As for how far Clark could go, Matthew Doyle teased that he could reach the Bundesliga in a couple years. Unlike how Philadelphia Union midfielder Brenden Aaronson is reportedly first going to RB Salzburg in Austria, Clark appears on a fast track for one step above.

“I’ve heard from reliable sources that the deal he signed has a clause that come 2022 he’s off to RB Leipzig, not Salzburg,” Doyle said. “The Red Bull mothership is that high on the kid that they think he’s a player for a top three or top four Bundesliga side. He has looked the part every time he has taken the field this year, whether it was in USL or MLS.”

In the meantime, it’s seeing if Clark can build off his 67-minute runout against Atlanta. The Red Bulls also recently hired Gerhard Struber as head coach, so there’s also the matter of integrating into his plans once he's stateside.

Regardless, Gass feels it’s all about getting Clark onto the field and letting him work his magic. He added that more RBNY youth players are on their way, too.

“What you see for New York is they get high-level, technical players who understand the system and work hard, you can kind of play them anywhere,” Gass said. “That’s what you saw with Tyler Adams. He just had to get on the field, and you’re going to see that with Caden Clark out wide. Then as they get their feet and they’re able to establish who they are at an MLS level, then you can start to put them in their best position or put them in the spine of the team and allow them to build. I think he’s one of three to four players in the Red Bull Academy who’s ready to play in MLS, and I think you’re going to see it over the next 18 months.”

As for who's next to make an impact on the first team, Gass pointed to a couple names.

"Omar Sowe — who scored about 150 goals in high school and has killed it. Jake LaCava as well, who was part of the Red Bull academy. Jordan Morris is a decent [comparison] for him — just a barrel-chested running back who can finish and creates chances."

Sowe is a 19-year-old forward who scored seven goals in just 749 minutes this year with NYRBII, while LaCava had five goals and three assists in 909 minutes.

For more on Clark and other MLS news, check out the entire Extratime episode here.

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