Knocking it Around featuring David Kerr,  writer for, with Matty Knips from Underdog Soccer Podcast and I to interview Caden Clark of New York Red Bulls 2 and Brandan Craig of Philadelphia Union 2.  This was episode 2 of Knocking it Around discussing USMNT USYNT players. We talk soccer, being a teen star and becoming a professional and to get the inside scoop on an incredible class of 2003s and Brandan’s 2004s

Caden Clark (NYRB2) on Knocking it Around

Most hardcore followers of the Development Academy are familiar with Caden Clark after he lit up the u19 DA playoffs with Barca Academy while playing three years up. Clark was named to the USSDA Playoffs Best XI by TopDrawerSoccer after scoring three goals in three games while playing up an age group. Clark used his hot streak over the last year to leverage a move to the New York Red Bulls where he signed a USL contract with NYRB2 where he will spend the next year playing before he moves up to the first team. The most notable part of Clark’s game is his soccer IQ. Clark is good with his feet and knows how to find the right pass but his ability to read the game and process what to do before he receives the ball is what makes him truly stand out. Clark’s time at Barca Academy was well spend rounding out his game to make him a player that you can count on playing as an attacking mid, center mid, or forward.

Clark could be a starter for the 2003 age group depending on the type of team they play against. While Elton Chifamba is a player who you can count on to help you beat a team that is more offensively talented, Clark is a player that this age group could rely on to come in and unlock a packed in defense. Clark being at New York Red Bulls is what makes him a prospect to watch as the Red Bulls have a great track record of properly developing young players (see Matt Miazga and Tyler Adams as recent examples). Clark is a player who could break out over the next two years and emerge as a top USMNT prospect.

Brandan Craig (Union2) on Knocking it Around

Brandan Craig is currently the best 2004 at the Philadelphia Union academy and is my favorite prospect in their system currently.  Brandan is a very versatile player who is currently being converted into a center back by the Philadelphia Union because he won’t stop growing (he is easily 6 feet tall and will continue to grow still).  Much like Joe Scally, Craig grew up as a right back and defensive midfielder which allowed Craig to develop into an elite passer and a valuable asset driving forward.  With Brandan Craig being turned into a center back, his game has to adapt because the weakest quality he has is his defense as he is beatable 1v1.  This is likely to be something that the Philadelphia Union constantly work on with him as he will be an automatic first team starter once he becomes a solid defender at a young age similar to Justen Glad with Real Salt Lake. 

Craig is such a good prospect because he can play defensive mid, right back, and center back and still manage to be one of the best 2004’s in all three positions which is something that most prospects can’t do.  Craig does have access to a European passport so it will be interesting to see if he decides to head abroad or stay a the Union.  In the past, Craig has trained with numerous European clubs including Liverpool and Bayern Munich.  When Craig starts to put on muscle and sharpens his defensive ability he will be an elite prospect and European clubs will be hunting to give him a fast pass to their first team.  He is a player with a bright USMNT future.