USA youth international Caden Clark is officically an RB Leipzig player. - © Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via images/Icon SMI
USA youth international Caden Clark is officically an RB Leipzig player. - © Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via images/Icon SMI

Caden Clark: Who is RB Leipzig's young American and answer to Gio Reyna?


Following in the footsteps of Christian Pulisic and Gio Reyna, RB Leipzig's Caden Clark could be the next American attacking midfielder to shine in the Bundesliga...

Caden Clark

Age: 19
Club: RB Leipzig
Position: Attacking midfielder
Country: United States (12 U20 caps/ two goals)

Key stats

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, before scoring on his MLS debut in a 1-0 win over Atlanta United eight months later. 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.

Clark sealed his move from New York Red to Leipzig in June 2021, but agreed to stay in the US until the end of the MLS season. - IMAGO / Icon SMI

Clark, a 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 2021. He signed a three-year-contract with the German giants, before being loaned back to New York. The US U20 international eventually linked up with Leipzig in February 2023, with a total of eight goals and four assists in 49 MLS matches to his name. He will wear the No.28 jersey.

Plays a bit like: Gio Reyna

Clark has followed the Tyler Adams route to Europe 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 Borussia Dortmund youngster 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 will look to emulate Borussia Dortmund and USA attacking midfielder Gio Reyna (r.) in the Bundesliga. - Maik Hölter/TEAM2sportphoto/Maik Hölter/TEAM2sportphoto/Pool

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 cut-back. 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 started turning heads on the pitch as young as seven years old. "I answered my phone, and it was a Montessori teacher and she goes, 'Chris, we really need you to come in and observe Caden, we think he has some socialisation issues.'" Chris Clark - Caden's performance coach father - told of a call he received back when his son was at elementary school.

"I'm thinking, 'oh my gosh, what is going on?'. So I go there and of course it’s 15 degrees [fahrenheit] outside because it's Minnesota, and he's got his snowsuit, his snow boots on, and he's in the far back of the playground [playing 1v1 soccer]. I said, 'you need to leave this alone, let this be, because this has nothing to do with socialisation, this has to do with the joy and the love of soccer.'"

What they're saying

"He's obviously scored amazing goals, but you know beyond just the goals, he's a quality player. He seems like a creative player. He always has ideas… he's very far ahead for his age." - Adams

"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