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Caden Clark’s opportunity with USMNT on hold for now

Many young MLS players were included in the U.S. Men’s National Team Concacaf Gold Cup roster on Friday with Gianluca Busio and James Sands among the selections. One impressive talent who did not get the nod was New York Red Bulls midfielder Caden Clark, just a few days after earning a move to German Bundesliga club RB Leipzig.

Clark was not in Gregg Berhalter’s final 23-player roster for the upcoming summer tournament due to a recent appendectomy,  which forced him out of the Red Bulls squad. The 18-year-old attacking midfielder has quickly grown into a fan favorite in Harrison, New Jersey, and one of the top young talents in MLS.

While Clark’s current role with the USMNT is still undecided, his future remains very bright ahead of a winter move to Germany.

“He was a guy who I was really looking forward to working with,” Berhalter said in a conference call Thursday with reporters. “[He’s] a really good player, [with] really good spatial awareness, really good balance with turning between the lines, really good vision [for the] final pass and ability score a goal.

“It’s really unfortunate how things work out sometimes, but we know that this kid has a bright future,” Berhalter said. “And we’re going to continue to monitor him when he goes to Leipzig.”

Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Clark has rapidly risen through the Red Bulls system and is continuing to play a key role in Gerhard Struber’s squad as the club pushes through the summer months. The Minnesota native has registered four goals and two assists in eight matches so far this season, becoming a menace in the final third with his goalscoring and passing abilities.

After missing Sunday’s 0-0 draw with Atlanta United, Clark remains out for the time being following his appendectomy, looking to get back into the fold quickly at Red Bull Arena. His move to RB Leipzig in January 2022 is a testament to the hard work that Clark has continued to put in as a professional player, as he now becomes the latest American talent to take the trip abroad.

With Clark out of the Gold Cup picture, Berhalter will get to see many new and familiar faces in his squad as the USMNT aims to win a second-straight trophy in 2021. Should Clark get back to form with the Red Bulls in the coming weeks, he could force himself into consideration for a spot on the roster for this fall’s World Cup Qualifying matches.

 

Comments

  1. Clark scored a couple great goals last season including his game winner in his first MLS game on Oct. 10, 2020. In all he played in 8 games for the Red Bulls in 2020. His goals were spectacular, but in 2020, his limited playing time did not make him as a 17 y.o. a lock on a spot on the U-23 MNT. He does not have a record of playing on any of the youth national teams.

    It was a surprise when Struber announced that Clark would play a major role in the Red Bulls midfield this year. He started all 8 Red Bulls games before his appendectomy.

    I am not sure how that record translates into thinking he was ready for the U-23 squad or to be invited into the Jan. or Mar. camps. Of course he did blossom and it is now pretty clear knowing what is known about him now that those things might not have been much of a stretch, but that would have required real clairvoyance.

    He has shown he has what it takes to play in MLS at only 17 (he is now 18) and he is exciting to watch much like Brendon Aaronson was for the Union; Aaronson played 52 games over 2 seasons for the Union, while Clark has played 16 games over 2 partial seasons for the Red Bulls.

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  2. GB: “[He’s] a really good player, [with] really good spatial awareness, really good balance with turning between the lines, really good vision [for the] final pass and ability score a goal.”

    All qualities severely lacking in Olympic Qual roster… Caden and his abilities did not suddenly materialize the last 2 mos.

    Quite CLEARLY and obviously should have broken him (and others) in… sooner… during Olympic quals.

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    • Your being a little harsh, he has gotten significantly better. Both Busio and Clark should have been called into either the Jan or Mar camp to make an informed decision though, they were both on the provisional roster but never attended a camp.

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