Player spotlight

With debut season approaching, Edelman sees opportunity with RBNY and U.S. U-20s

United States U-20 international Daniel Edelman signed a homegrown deal with the Red Bulls last month and the defensive midfielder hopes to make is breakthrough in 2022. Also on his mind is the U.S. U-20 team, which will attempt to qualify for the 2023 U-20 World Cup and the 2024 Olympics in just six months. ASN's Brian Sciaretta spoke with the Warren, NJ native about his goals and expectations. 
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
January 05, 2022
1:05 PM

THE NEW YORK RED BULLS have advanced to the MLS playoffs for an impressive 12 straight years, a period which has also included three Supporters Shields. During that stretch, young homegrown players have played important roles. Tyler Adams and Matt Miazga are the most notable examples. Last year John Tolkin, Kyle Duncan, and non-homegrown but USL product Caden Clark logged significant minutes. Sean Davis recently departed and was the club’s first-ever homegrown captain.

Daniel Edelman, 18, signed a homegrown deal with the Red Bulls in December and is seen as one of the club’s most promising young players and could be next in this line. Last season, the U.S. youth international featured for the Red Bulls reserve team in the USL Championship where he made 30 appearances including 28 starts for 2486 minutes.

The Red Bulls, however, are entering the 2022 seasons with more questions than answers. There were a few significant departures including Sean Davis. Davis was in his prime and signed as a free agent with Nashville after serving as the popular Red Bull captain. As a defensive midfielder, Edelman plays a similar role and could be asked to eventually help fill the void left by the departure of Davis.

“For this upcoming season, I definitely just want to help the team out in any way possible,” Edelman said. “If I get my chance, I just want to make sure that I'm ready to take it and do what I can with the opportunity. As a team, I think we can accomplish some great things this year.”

Edelman will have to fight for playing time as Dru Yearwood, Cristian Casseres, Frankie Amaya, and the newly acquired Lewis Morgan are just a few of the veterans who will comprise of the central midfield options. Other additions are possible.

But signing Edelman was certainly a nice move for the Red Bulls who will add a key U.S. U-20 international to the mix. The son of two parents who were both college athletes at Loyola University in Maryland – his father on the soccer team and his mother on the basketball team, Edelman spent most of his formative years at PDA, a top youth club in New Jersey. Growing up in nearby Warren Township, NJ, he frequently attended Red Bulls games with his family and took the step of joining the Red Bull Academy in 2020 with the eye of earning USL Championship minutes.  

“As a young kid, they were the main team that I had followed and was able to go watch frequently,” Edelman said of the Red Bulls. “They were the biggest soccer team in the state, and I think it was super beneficial to me to watch these guys when I was at a young age and really aspire to be them. I had gone with my dad and my grandfather to a bunch of games, and it was like: 'Hey, that would be amazing if I could step on that field someday…’ It's a great feeling and now I have the opportunity to do the same.”

Like many top young American players, Edelman has hopes of eventually getting to the big European leagues but believed starting for his local team, a team he developed an attachment at an early age, offered the best path to begin his career.

“Going through the Red Bulls academy, one of the biggest attention grabbers for me was a bigger goal beyond it - this pathway to Europe,” Edelman said. “That's been a goal of mine since I was a little kid. Playing in Europe - a way to get there. With Red Bulls, it was local, it was close to me and made the most sense. It was time for me to make that jump to an MLS club and to join them. It was only going to help me and really keep adding to my game. Obviously joining the academy led me to getting an opportunity with the USL team, which now had me going up against men. And it starting to get more and more real. It was definitely the right call to join the academy and sort of keep getting exposed to where I am now.”

This year, Edelman will also have dual responsibilities. In addition to the New York Red Bulls, he will also have an important role with the United States U-20 team.

After top U.S. youth national teams were essentially paused in January 2020 due to COVID-19, they restarted in November. The U.S. U-20 team participated at the Revelations Cup in Mexico just days after Mikey Varas was hired as head coach. The U.S. team lost to Brazil in the first game but drew Colombia and narrowly lost to Mexico to conclude the tournament.

“It was huge for me and those guys to really be back in that group again and in that environment where with your respective clubs maybe some guys don't see it the way that we do at the camp,” Edelman said. “It’s very beneficial for all of us to be battling with each other and play together again. The chemistry and the tactics, it was definitely tough to learn with the time that we had.”

The team’s performance improved as the tournament progressed and that was a promising sign given the newly hired Varas was still unfamiliar with his team and many of the players had never played with each other.

Still the team remains talented with many players like DC United’s Kevin Paredes, the Philadelphia trio of Paxten Aaronson, Jack McGlynn, and Quinn Sullivan, and Chicago goalkeeper Gaga Slonina all having big roles with their clubs. The team however is thin at the No. 6 position and Edelman will be important to shoring up that role. 

“We barely had any trainings together,” Edelman said of the recent U-20 tournament. “I think from the first game to the second game, it got so much better. Then in the last game it got even better. The results obviously weren't there. But I think this group has so much potential. We're going to have so much more time to train and prepare.”

In terms of dealing with Varas, Edelman felt comfortable and was quick to point out that many of the ideas Varas was trying to bring to the U-20 team were similar to those used by the Red Bulls.

But this summer, the U.S. U-20 team will take part in a critical tournament for U.S. Soccer that will serve as qualifying for both the 2023 U-20 World Cup and the 2024 Olympics. The U.S. men’s team has failed to qualify for three straight Olympics and returning to that tournament, especially two years ahead of hosting a World Cup, is seen as extremely important for both building public enthusiasm over the program and helping develop players near the national team level.

“The only goal and the main goal for us right now is to qualify. That's something that coach Varas had spoken about at camp: 'let's focus on we focus on one game at a time and we do what we can to get the best result in this game.’ Looking forward, it's going to be it's going to be so crucial for us to do everything we can to qualify."

Edelman is looking forward to the challenge and the opportunity. For now, that will start with the Red Bulls who will open for preseason this month.

“I'm just excited to be joining the team for the 2022 season,” Edelman said. “I've been looking forward to it. I think it is definitely the next chapter in my life. It was great starting out in the USL and playing all those games and really helping me develop as a player. As the season nears and preseason, I'm just going to look to do everything I can to help this team grow and keep improving.”

Post a comment