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New York Red Bulls get younger, win with starting lineup average age of 23.7

Aug 29, 2018; Harrison, NJ, USA; New York Red Bulls midfielder Tyler Adams (4) controls the ball in front of Houston Dynamo midfielder Memo Rodriguez (8) during the second half at Red Bull Arena. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

HARRISON, N.J. — Here are three things we learned from the New York Red Bulls’ 1-0 win over the Houston Dynamo Wednesday night at Red Bull Arena.

The kids are alright

Luis Robles couldn’t believe it. Somehow, the Red Bulls, already a young team, got even younger on Wednesday night.

In fact, the average age of the starting XI was 23.7, and Robles was the only player over 30.

“The thing I really admire about them is this fearlessness, tenaciousness to their play. And yet, there’s going to be immaturities there,” Robles said. “So, you’re looking for opportunities to help cultivate, help mature them. Give them pointers. But, more than anything, continue to breathe life into their play so that they have extra confidence walking on the field, so they can make a difference. I hope it continues to happen.”

Each of the players given a rare start, from 23-year-old Fidel Escobar in the back to 18-year-old Cristian Cásseres  in the midfield and 23-year-old Brian White up, front impressed.

“This is who we are,” Red Bulls coach Chris Armas said. “We think we’re one of the leaders of this player development. We’re at the forefront. We believe in young guys, we push, and it’s about the philosophy, it’s about the mentality, the leadership from young guys, and we’re not afraid to give them chances. I think from the club and to some of the leadership, we’re really, really happy with some of those performances.”

Respect for Deuce

Growing up in Wappingers Falls, N.Y., Tyler Adams spent so many of his Saturday mornings and early afternoons watching the English Premier League, especially to keep tabs on Americans Stuart Holden and Clint Dempsey.

Now 19 years old and just beginning his career with the U.S. men’s national team, Adams said Dempsey, who announced his retirement after a 15-year career, was a player he looked up to.

“Unbelievable influence and I think that what goes unnoticed is kind of the weird route he took to establish himself as a top player — driving three hours each way to practice at a young age, going to college and doing well there and going to Fulham and becoming the first U.S. player to record a hat trick in the Premier League, there’s so many things that this guy’s accomplished,” Adams said. “For him to retire right now feels a bit weird because I grew up watching this guy, I enjoyed watching him and Stu Holden in the Premier League. Us having the same agent [Lyle Yorks], I’ve heard so many stories about the things he’s done.”

New position, no problem

Sean Davis has formed a terrific partnership with Adams as the two holding midfielders behind playmaker Kaku. But on Wednesday night, he was taken out of his comfort zone. Cásseres started alongside Adams, while Davis was pushed into the No. 10 role. He had 64 touches on the ball, third behind Michael Murillo (77) and Adams (65) and his passing accuracy (73.8) was third among starters.

“You see the free kicks they’re popping off his foot. You know he’s got confidence. He’s turning in the gaps playing forward. He’s pointing, he’s putting out little situations in the corner where he’s wasting time, and again, showing leadership,” Armas said. “I said it earlier to someone that [Jesse Marsch] has to be proud watching from afar seeing so many ways his team go after it, and we keep pushing. We love Sean, and he’s really pushing himself out of that comfort zone and becoming a real winner around here.”

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