On Saturday, Matt Miazga scored his first international career goal, a diving header for the last tally in a 3-0 win by the United States national team over Nicaragua.
The goal by the former New York Red Bulls center back, now with English side Chelsea, was pivotal in that it ensured the United States topped their group in the Gold Cup.
Miazga is now the latest Red Bulls player to develop as a teenager for this club and make a splash on the international level. This team with one of the deepest academy systems in North America is funneling even more talent to the national team is no surprise.
In fact, the red, white and blue is currently benefiting from several players in their starting lineup who were first developed as professionals by this organization. Miazga just happens to be the latest.
A quick scan of the current national team roster and player pool sees more than just Miazga making an impact. Other names such as goalkeeper, Tim Howard (then with the MetroStars) came up as teenagers as well as forward Juan Agudelo, midfielder Michael Bradley and forward Jozy Altidore – all of whom were teenagers who each played several seasons with this franchise before moving to Europe. All five of those listed players are currently on the Gold Cup roster for the knockout stages.
Some such as Dax McCarty, now with the Chicago Fire and currently back in the national team picture yet again, played their peak years with the organization.
All of which is to say that this organization has done a tremendous job of developing talent that has become the spine of this national team: Altidore, Bradley and Howard are virtual locks for next summer’s World Cup. It would surprise few to see a resurgent McCarty on that roster or even Miazga make that final spot for a squad that seems bound for Russia.
Miazga’s goal, the first of his international career in just his third appearance with the senior national team, made the team he left behind beam with pride. He is the poster boy for a Red Bulls Academy system that has developed numerous first team players throughout MLS and in Europe.
“We think that, first of all, we have a good academy,” Red Bulls head coach Jesse Marsch said. “Second of all, we’re hoping to make it better and better. The competition in the community has grown so with the Cosmos and New York City we have to make sure we’re doing a good job.
“I think there’s a distinct way of developing players that we have here now that we’re really looking to build on. The goal will be, and I’ve said before that I think it will be a measure of our success as a club and our coaching staff, how well our young players and our academy players do. So we’ll keep putting a lot of energy into that.”
Connor Lade, an academy product as well as a Homegrown Player who has been with the United States national team, has played with both Agudelo and Miazga during their respective time with the Red Bulls.
To paraphrase a slogan once associated with a North Jersey town: “Paterson makes, the world takes.” Well, in this case, the Red Bulls develop and the national team reaps.
“It’s incredible. I was so happy for Matt. Not only scoring that goal but a goal of that magnitude. It set the U.S. up well going into the next round, it’s huge. I can’t imagine how happy he is, how happy his family is. It’s a true testament to how he works, where he’s come from.
He’s an all-around great guy and we couldn’t be happier for him,” Lade said on Monday.
“And obviously Juan has been doing incredible for the past however many years. He’s been a great player. I enjoyed my short time playing with him. I couldn’t be happier for him as well. It’s nice to see the Academy guys doing well.”
And there are no signs of letting up.
Tyler Adams, fresh off a strong performance in the U-20 World Cup, has entrenched himself into the Starting XI this year for the Red Bulls. There have been whispers that he could be a darkhorse candidate for next summer’s World Cup roster.
Marsch said that he’s spoken to the federation about his 18-year-old midfielder, who has been beyond impressive in MLS this year.
“I’ve talked with the staff and they’re keeping an eye on him,” Marsch said.
“I would have thought that there was a possibility that he would have been named on the Gold Cup roster; he wasn’t. I think it will be harder and harder to ignore him as he grows within our team.”