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Growing up in Elmont, Jayden Reid became a fan of the New York Red Bulls around the age of 11 or 12. His favorite players were Thierry Henry and Bradley Wright-Phillips.
“They were the only team in New York so that was my outlet,” said Reid. “Those two really caught my eye.”
And now, maybe Reid will catch the eye of other youth soccer players on Long Island because he is now a New York Red Bull after signing with the Major League Soccer club as a homegrown player. The former University of Connecticut defender signed a one-year MLS contract on Wednesday with options for 2024, 2025 and 2026.
“It means everything to me,” said the 21-year-old. “It’s a crazy feeling. So many kids dream of this but to be blessed to actually achieve it is another story. I’m just grateful because I worked very hard for this and to see my hard work paying off is an amazing feeling. Especially growing up within the system.”
Reid, who spent five years in the Red Bulls Academy, becomes the 29th homegrown signing in franchise history. He is now the sixth New York native on the 2023 Red Bulls roster, including fellow Long Island brothers Dylan and Sean Nealis from Massapequa. Reid began his Red Bulls Academy stint with the U-12 club.
“I have a lot of friends within the New York Red Bulls system and I know the style of play so it hits very different,” said Reid. “I’m just grateful to be a part of the first team and to get started.”
Reid attended Archbishop Molloy High School, a private Catholic high school in Briarwood, Queens. He played youth soccer for the Jigs Soccer Academy on Long Island starting at the age of 8 and his coach was Gerneil Lorne, the founder and president of the academy.
Reid wasn’t the only player that came through that academy and reach professional soccer.
“(Lorne has) produced at least two pros already,” said Reid. “We had a lot of good ballers. There were about five of us who made the transition from Jigs Soccer Academy to the Red Bulls Soccer Academy.”
After high school, Reid went on to play college soccer for UCONN, where he appeared in 51 matches over four seasons totaling three goals and seven assists. This past summer, he was with the Long Island Rough Riders who have a storied history dating back to a 1994 USISL National Championship team that included legendary American players like Tony Meola, Giovanni Savarese and Long Island native Chris Armas.
“Before I played for the Rough Riders, I didn’t know much about the history,” said Reid. “And then when I got there, I started to educated myself on the whole Rough Riders history. It was a great feeling. I played with some amazing players this past summer and we were fortunate enough to make a deep national championship run but unfortunately, we lost in the final.”
And now Reid is ready for the next chapter of his career.
He joins a perennial playoff team and is hoping to be a missing ingredient to a championship recipe that has eluded the franchise since its inception in 1996. But what Reid is also hopeful of is to continue to refine his game and learn from the players and coaches around him.
“I’m most excited to really get into an environment with the professionals,” said Reid. “I feel long a sponge ready to soak up all types of information. There are so many aspects of my game that I can develop just by being surrounded by them every single day, not just on the field but off the field as well. It’s about building good habits and doing the right things.”
Reid played on youth soccer fields all over Long Island before taking his talents to the Red Bulls Academy, high school, UCONN and the Rough Riders. Now, his playground will be 25,000-seat Red Bull Arena, arguably the best stadium in all of Major League Soccer. He’s going to be playing professional soccer, not far from home, in front of thousands of screaming fans, including family and friends.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” said Reid. “I cannot wait to make my debut with the fans, with my teammates, and with my parents in the crowd. I cannot wait. It’s going to be an amazing feeling.”
When he does step onto the pitch for the Red Bulls, Reid will undoubtedly serve as inspiration for other young players on Long Island to achieve their dreams of not only playing professional soccer, but also to do it for their hometown team.
Reid is well aware that there are many more players that are coming through the Long Island youth soccer pipeline that are capable of getting to where he is now.
“This speaks volumes about the quality of soccer players on Long Island,” said Reid. “I’m glad we’re getting attention because there’s so many more players like us. Maybe they’re not being seen yet but they’re very talented. I know most of the ballers in New York and I know so many of them who come out of Long Island who are gifted and talented.”
As the calendar is set to flip from 2022 to 2023, Reid is looking ahead to off-season training, training camp and the start of the 2023 MLS season. The Red Bulls begin the 2023 regular season on Feb. 25 at Orlando City and will play their home opener on March 4 against Nashville at Red Bull Arena.
Reid cannot contain his excitement.
“Excited is an understatement of how I feel going into this new year,” said Reid. “I’m just excited to get better and to try to get one percent better every single day.”
Top: Elmont native Jayden Reid after signing an MLS deal with the New York Red Bulls, the team he grew up rooting for. (Credit: New York Red Bulls)