The New York Red Bulls confirmed the signing of the 18-year old Mathias Jorgensen. Fans should be excited, but what can they expect in year one?
The club used Target Allocation Money to bring him in. But how will head coach Chris Armas, who enters his first full season at the helm in 2019, use the young player? Will he be a key contributor? Or will be a player who is still developing and getting acclimated to MLS in his first season with the club while seeing sporadic action when Wright-Phillips needs a rest?
The true answer probably lies somewhere in the middle of those two extremes. It’s tough to see a situation where Jorgensen, a Danish international who is moving to New Jersey from Odense Boldklub in Denmark, beats Wright-Phillips out in the starting center-forward role if Armas decides to stick to the 4-2-3-1 formation that has become commonplace with the Red Bulls.
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According to the team’s website, the Red Bulls currently have five forwards on the roster, including Jorgensen. One being the aforementioned Wright-Phillips, in addition to Derrick Etienne Jr, Brian White, and Anatole Abang. Etienne is a player that could be in for a breakout 2019 season, but he likes to play further out wide and take players on in isolation, rather than playing as a center-forward.
Jorgensen’s direct competition will most likely be Abang and White. Both have been used sparingly for the senior team during their stints in New York, so if Jorgensen shows something, he certainly should have a chance to make an immediate impact. Wright-Phillips, however, still had an extremely productive 2018 season, notching 20 goals en route to a Supporters’ Shield victory for the Red Bulls, so Jorgensen has an uphill battle to become the number one option.
Armas described Jorgensen as a ‘dynamic option up the field with his speed, clever moments and willingness to run behind opponents’ defenses.’ Movement into the channels is one of the staples of Wright-Phillips’ game. The fact that Jorgensen has a comparable skill set to exploit such movements should get Red Bulls fans excited about his future.
With Kaku staying in Harrison, for now, and Marc Rzatkowski back to the team after his loan expired, the quality of service Jorgensen will be getting is enticing and creative. This is a varied, supplying midfield that has fed Wright-Phillips brilliantly for years. Jorgensen will be stepping into an ideal situation.
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The identity of the New York Red Bulls has, and always will be, a high-pressing, high-energy team. RBNY likes to make other teams turn the ball over in midfield and then attack quickly on the counter. Jorgensen’s threat over the top is the perfect option for such the Red Bulls. He could be a major problem for opposing defenses as he develops.
It’s too much to expect Jorgensen to overtake Wright-Phillips as the primary striker in 2019. But that’s not what the Red Bulls need at the moment. Wright-Phillips has shown that he is still an upper-echelon striker in MLS. There is no need for a replacement. Not yet, anyway.
If Jorgensen can fill in here and there and become an impact presence off the bench, all the while developing as a teenager, the Red Bulls will be set for both the present and the future. That is a very nice place to be.