Following in the footsteps of Christian Pulisic and Gio Reyna, Caden Clark could be the next American attacking midfielder to shine in the Bundesliga.
Club: RB Leipzig (on loan at New York Red Bulls until December 2021)
Position: Attacking midfielder
Country: United States (yet to be capped)
Hailing from Medina in Minnesota, Clark started out with local club Minnesota Thunder before later lining out with the Barca Residency Academy in Arizona. He signed to the reserve side of the New York Red Bulls in February 2020, and made his league debut for them in the USL Championship in July of that year. New York Red Bulls - the former club of new Leipzig teammate Adams - moved to acquire his Major League Soccer rights from Minnesota United in October 2020. He scored on his MLS debut that same month in a 1-0 win over Atlanta United. The right-footed player's second goal for the side came on his second appearance, coming off the bench to salvage a point at Toronto FC. In November 2020 he netted against Columbus, becoming - at 17 years and 178 days - the youngest player to score in the MLS Cup Playoffs since 2006. The 5'9" attacking midfielder had got four goals and two assists in eight 2021 MLS regular-season appearances for New York Red Bulls by the time his move to Leipzig was announced in June. Clark - who has signed a three-year-contract with Leipzig - had by then netted six times in 15 MLS appearances in total.
Plays a bit like: Gio Reyna
Clark has followed the Adams route to Germany by breaking through in MLS before moving from New York Red Bulls to Leipzig. Both in his career trajectory and as a player, though, his path resembles Dortmund youngster Gio Reyna. Both are versatile attacking midfielders, and both made massive strides in their early teens to earn a move to Europe. Reyna bypassed senior football in the US altogether when making his move from New York City FC to Dortmund. The son of former USA captain Claudio Reyna then made headlines by scoring a gorgeous first goal from distance in the DFB Cup against Werder Bremen.
Clark has developed a habit of scoring spectacular goals too, with his first in senior football a sweetly controlled edge-of-the-box right-footed volley against Atlanta. That was swiftly followed by his effort against Toronto, which came when he took the ball out of his feet and thumped in a thunderous left-footed strike from range. Like Reyna, Clark has the vision to pick out a teammate with a throughball or a clever cutback. The early evidence would suggest, though, that he could be slightly more direct and even more of a goal threat than the Dortmund teenager.
Did you know?
Clark had previously visited Leipzig with his family, where he got to meet USA midfielder Adams. "He's obviously scored amazing goals, but you know beyond just the goals, he's a quality player," Adams told Transfermarkt in November 2020. "He seems like a creative player. He always has ideas… he's very far ahead for a 17-year-old.”
Clark only turned 18 in March 2021. The prospect of him hitting his stride in a Leipzig midfield featuring tigerish 22-year-old Adams and coached by fellow American Marsch is an exciting one - for both club and country.
What they're saying
"Caden is a big talent and we are happy to see him take the next step in his career. He is a hard-working kid and has a bright future ahead of himself." - New York Red Bulls head coach Gerhard Struber
"Caden Clark has fantastic skills and enormous potential. He can play anywhere across attacking midfield and is incredibly adaptable in his playing style. As well as that, he is a scoring threat, has great passing quality and strikes the ball well, allowing him to score goals from range." - Leipzig technical director Christopher Vivell
"Caden has this confidence, this self-belief, no matter where he is, not only does he belong, but he's the best… his confidence and ability to impact games is second to none." - New York Red Bulls academy director Sean McCafferty, who also worked with Clark at the Barca Residency Academy