March 11, 2018
"We have been very lucky here to inherit so many good players," said Marsch, "and players that can fit the way we play the game."
While the Red Bulls opened the CCL campaign two weeks before the start of the MLS season against Olimpia of Honduras, they had a second team finish up the Mobile Mini Sun Cup in Tucson. That included Designated Player signing Alejandro "Kaku" Romero Gamarra, Kyle Duncan, who debuted on Saturday a day after signing with the Red Bulls and Mines, who all started against the Timbers.
"If you watched the games down at Arizona when we were in Costa Rica and then when we were back here," said Marsch, "he was one of the best players in every one of those games. So it was an easy addition to put him on the field tonight. It was an easy decision. I knew it -- I knew it going into last week that Ben Mines was playing tonight. And I was pretty confident that he was going to play well."
Marsch said it was clear after the Red Bulls' first camp in Florida, that he could count on Mines, who turned down a scholarship offer to attend Stanford in order to sign with the Red Bulls.
"It wasn't even training as much as every preseason game, every moment he's played with our team in preseason, he's either scored a goal or set a play up," he said. "In our first two-week camp down in Tampa, Luis at the end of the camp said Ben Mines in the best player in camp in the first stretch, and that wasn't like a gesture. It was true. He was the best player. He scored the most goals and he was the most dangerous, every day."
Marsch was confident that Mines would score if he got a chance, and the goal came in the 18th minute when Kaku played a ball across from the left side and Mines was all alone at the far post to put it away. He raced to the sidelines and put his hand to his ear as if to talk on the phone, acknowledging his mother in the stands.
“She always calls me before every game, texts — whatever,” Mines said about the celebration. “She’s always there for me.”
An unbelievable atmosphere last night and amazing to make my debut. Buzzing to have scored as well but couldn’t have done it without my incredible teammates who have helped bring me into this team. Thank you so much to everyone for making this a night to remember #RBNY pic.twitter.com/UwJX2FbboH— Ben Mines (@bmines10) March 11, 2018
Mines became the third youngest player to score for the Red Bulls after Eddie Gaven and Jozy Altidore.
“For a 17-year-old in a man’s world, he’s fit right in," said Marsch. "He’s not intimidated. He’s ready for this challenge."