New York Red Bulls are quickly becoming the team in Major League Soccer to churn out quality, American center-backs.
First it was Tim Ream to come through the Red Bulls before joining Bolton Wanderers, where he has enjoyed personal success, winning the club’s Player of the Year Award two years running.
Now the Red Bulls have another young stud in the making. That stud, Matt Miazga, looks likely to exceed the high standards set by Ream.
Of course, Ream didn’t have the luxury of coming through the Harrison, New Jersey based club’s youth team, as Miazga did. That opportunity led the 19-year-old to breaking into the first team in 2013 as a homegrown player.
At 6 foot 4 inches, Miazga is strong in the air and dominant at set pieces. That aerial prowess enabled the centre-back to score his first career goal on Sunday versus New York City FC. Miazga’s goal pushed the original New York team over the line and ensured the club will win the season series against their Bronx rivals. The Red Bulls are now just one match away from doing the treble over the Blues in 2015.
Even before Sunday’s Hudson River Derby win, Miazga’s season had been a home run. In 12 games this term, the Red Bulls’ stopper is averaging 3.2 inceptions, 2.7 tackles, and seven clearances per game. In addition, Miazga possesses a 75.8% pass accuracy rate according to WhoScored.com.
The dust had yet to settle on the Red Bulls win at Yankee Stadium when transfer rumours started in regards to Miazga. Gary Monk’s Swansea City are rumoured to have had scouts in the Bronx to watch Miazga play. Referred to as the Red Bull’s “prize prospect”, rumours of a mere £500,000 ($785,000) could pry the youngster away from the Big Apple. Although reports do indicate the New Jersey-native could fetch more towards £2 million ($3.14m).
While a sale and short-term finances would be nice for the Red Bulls, hanging on to their defensive jewel would be wiser. Miazga, who has represented both Poland and the USA at youth levels, should be considered for a big contract. For years, fans, pundits and MLS insiders have spoken about paying the best American talent to stay and play in the league. Why should it be about bringing back Americans from playing in Europe? Why not keep the best in the country to begin with?
DC United wrapped up Bill Hamid in May with a multi-year contract extension. It wasn’t designated player money, but it was still enough to keep the 2014 Goalkeeper of the Year in MLS. So why can’t the Red Bulls keep Miazga in red and white, at least another season or two? Miazga’s 2014 base salary was $65,000, which could easily be doubled and then some to keep him at Red Bull Arena until he’s at least old enough to legally drink.
Take into consideration two of the designated player imports: Carlos Rivas, 21 and Bryan Rochez, 20, both South Americans playing for Orland City. Although they play different positions, Rivas in midfield and Rochez as a forward, neither have had the impact as Miazga.
The point is, young American talent that is proving itself in the league should be rewarded over the unknown quantities being introduced. Miazga, like Hamid, should be kept as a prize asset for years to come.
Despite it being wise for MLS and the Red Bulls to lock up Miazga for long-term, the ease in which Ream headed to Bolton is probably a sign that Miazga will be allowed to leave, too.
Money is great and the Red Bulls enjoyed on field success following Ream’s multi-million dollar move overseas. But keeping a young stud in the team for years to come, could mean more than a few million dollars today.
Follow Drew Farmer on Twitter @Calciofarmer. Drew Farmer is a Manchester, England-based journalist/blogger that writes for MLSGB and World Soccer Talk. Drew has contributed to Radio Yorkshire, Forza Italian Football, Bleacher Report and Soccerly. Originally from southwest Missouri, Drew covers Italy’s Serie A, English football and USA soccer.
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