In today’s football world filled with countless stars, many of us are curious as to who is waiting in the wings. That search for the next child prodigy; a young man who has the potential to bring us to our feet and marvel at how they are masters of his craft despite his tender age, he is always on the minds of millions of fans around the world.
With this in mind, we at 101 great goals will bring you another weekly series looking at gamers around the world who are 21 and under. You have surely heard of some of them, while we hope to bring you some new names to pique your curiosity from time to time.
Name: Caden Clark
Age: 18 years
Position: Attacking midfielder
Place of birth: Medina, Minnesota, United States
National team caps: 0 (limited to junior level up to and including U20)
actual club: NY Red Bulls (on loan from RB Leipzig)
Current market value (according to Transfermarkt): 3.5 million euros
Potential Suitor(s): N/A
The narrative surrounding MLS in the United States has become a quantum shift from its status in the world of soccer in recent years; one that many long felt would always come given the pedigree the country has historically had with regards to its ability to produce high-level athletes in a wide range of sports.
Long associated with basketball, baseball, and football as the key sports triad, the United States has a much older association with soccer than many know or understand, but the internal dynamics necessary for development of the youth to really thrive in the country has only very recently allowed talent identification and nurturing to really take off.
Since 2020, at least ten homegrown players have left MLS development centers for clubs in Europe. The likes of Brendan Aaronson and Ricardo Pepi are two of the more prominent names people will point to, with lesser-known but equally talented individuals like Gianluca Busio and Tanner Tessmann also populating that list. Another young talent that many in Europe may not have heard of is Caden Clark.
Born in Minnesota, a state known in sports dynamics for producing ice hockey players, but also with longstanding ties to both Germany and Scandinavia that have made soccer quietly popular, Clark is one of the brightest talents around. emerging from the youth of MLS. ranges to date.
Welcome back, @iamcadenclark!
We added Caden Clark on loan for 2022, with an option to extend, from @RBLeipzig_EN.
— New York Red Bulls (@NewYorkRedBulls) February 9, 2022
Currently on loan at the New York Red Bulls, his rise to MLS stardom in 2020 had earned him a move to German outfit RB Leipzig after bursting onto the scene scoring twice in his first two appearances for the NYRB as a 17-year-old, while exhibiting high technical proficiency, its potential has been undeniable, but the need for refinement has been just as evident.
However, it stands to reason that Clark has been on the right track all along, having spent three years at the Arizona-based Barcelona Residency Academy before making his breakthrough with the NYRB. For him to be signed by Leipzig, a club that has an outstanding track record of buying young talent and continuing their development, his return to MLS on loan should not be seen as a criticism of his current ability.
He recently ranked 24th in the latest NxGN50 via Goal for 2022 for good reason and has already placed himself on US coach Gregg Berhalter’s radar screen despite the cadre of young players currently on the rise. on the national and European scene. And while he’s back in his homeland, it’s hard to discount the value that pitching minutes will mean for the 18-year-old, given that they would be nearly impossible to get in Saxony at the moment.
His tactical versatility is a real plus in what he can bring given his ability to position himself behind the striker or on either flank as a wide option, but it is his increasing efficiency in front of goal that makes him a serious player. long distance term threat.
Also, perhaps Clark’s most prominent trait, despite being an attacker, is his ability to press, but also to win back possession at the tackle; both qualities that suit a system like Leipzig’s under current boss Domenico Tedesco, as well as former players Jesse Marsch and Julian Nagelsmann.
His profile and overall player package are ideally suited to a high-octane attacking system where pressing is the main task on the defensive side of the ball, so it’s no wonder Leipzig wanted to tap into a player in their own global pipeline. in a move that was similar to when Tyler Adams was brought across the pond.
Unlike other players we’ve profiled in recent weeks, Caden Clark appears to be much more of a player for the future than someone who will shake the ground for the foreseeable future. But when it comes to the future, expect Clark to be at the forefront of soccer in the United States.
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