In Daniel Edelman, the Red Bulls have their next midfield general

Daniel Edelman Red Bulls

DDaniel Edelman didn’t need to think twice about it. He took a touch to set himself, and shot one past Drake Callender into the net. In front of the South Ward, the 19-year-old American scored his first MLS goal, the game winner.

Daniel Edelman, the latest young midfield general for the Red Bulls

The Red Bulls’ 3-1 win over Inter Miami this past weekend was just what the doctor ordered. A first home win in nearly two months maintains their grip on fourth place as the club looks to host a playoff game. Edelman has suddenly been thrusted in the efforts to do so, making four starts in the past month and going the full 90 minutes.

Circumstances have given the youngster an opportunity to showcase himself. Frankie Amaya has looked fatigued starting multiple games, and Cristian Casseres Jr has been shuffled around playing higher up the pitch. Edelman himself has been going back and forth playing games for Red Bulls II and the senior team in both league games and U.S. Open Cup tilts. Gerhard Struber has started taking a liking to the kid. So you can expect to see more of Edelman as the regular season draws to a close. It raises a question, because he wasn’t expected to grab such a big role in the team this late into the year. So how did we get here?

What Daniel Edelman brings to the team

Seeing Edelman play this season reminds this writer a bit of Sean Davis’ play last season. Although there’s a twist. Davis didn’t have the eye for shots and goals that Edelman currently has. And that, along with his distribution and tackling in midfield, makes him suited to Struber’s system.

“First of all, he’s a very intelligent boy”, told Struber post-match. “He knows exactly what I think we want from him, how our football works. His vertical thinking, his transition thinking. And his decision making is on a high level, he knows exactly what I expect from a six. Right now he executed and showed me in his game time very good, stable performances on a very, very good level”.

And you can see that in the way the team connects with him on the pitch. His ability to see danger in midfield, recycle and string passes together. But what’s stood out recently is his eye to take shots from in and around the 18-yard-box. Eventually, there was going to be a chance for Edelman to take full advantage and he sure did scoring on Saturday night.

“I think it’s something that I’m definitely trying to add to my game”, said Edelman post-game. Putting pressure on at the top of box if we have good numbers at the back. Our center backs have good rest defense if they can be left one-on-one alone. Six’s push forward and in that moment, I realized that I could probably step to the guy in front of me. How it ended up going down was I stepped in front of him, forechecked, win the ball and focused on putting the ball in the back of the net”.

It was important that his play helps the Red Bulls break down opponents being compact and sitting back. Edelman has earned his starting spot and has brought a different dimension in midfield, one that helps keep the team ticking.

Is there more in store for Daniel Edelman with the Red Bulls?

Of course there is. He’s one of the first names on the team sheet given his form recently. And immediately, comparisons emerged with another high-profile American who came from the Red Bull Academy: Tyler Adams.

“It’s an honor and a privilege”, Edelman explained post-game. “He’s worn the armband for the USMNT, that’s something that I aspire to do, and yeah of course replicate his play. I’m trying to get to the next level and he’s a guy that’s shown that he can do it at the international level, and dominate games in the Premier League which is incredible”. Whether these comparisons are premature or not remains to be seen but Edelman now has a blueprint with which to follow.

Daniel Edelman’s emergence this season is similar to John Tolkin’s of last year. With the 2023 U.S. U-20 World Cup coming, Edelman will have a spot to make the team. He, along with his peers will know that his performances at club level will speak for themselves. With this early sample size, Edelman will no doubt have a great chance at making the U-20 squad, and keeping his status as a starter with the Red Bulls. Gerhard Struber has found a new midfield general, one the Red Bulls will cherish for years to come.
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