MLS Focus: Ben Mines, 17, fits right in with the Red Bulls

Week 2 of the 2018 MLS season produced a couple of remarkable results.

Expansion LAFC's 5-1 win at Rio Tinto Stadium, where Real Salt Lake had never lost by such a large margin, was followed on Saturday night by New York Red Bulls' 4-0 win over Portland Timbers.

Only two starters from the Red Bulls' 2-0 win at Tijuana in the Concacaf Champions League on Tuesday -- goalkeeper Luis Robles and midfielder Sean Davis -- were retained, but they still crushed the Timbers, who finished first in the Western Conference in the 2017 regular season.

The winning goal was scored by 17-year-old Ben Mines, one of eight products of the Red Bulls' academy or USL team whom head coach Jesse Marsch used in the season opener.

MLS 2018: American goal-scorers in league debut:
1. Anthony Fontana (18, Philadelphia, 2-0 vs. New England, March 3)
2. Niki Jackson (22, Colorado, 1-2 at New England, March 10)
3. Ben Mines (17, NY Red Bulls, 4-0 vs. Portland, March 10)
Also: Mason Toye (Minn. United) had game-winning assist in debut (March 10).

"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.”

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."

2 comments about "MLS Focus: Ben Mines, 17, fits right in with the Red Bulls".
  1. R2 Dad, March 12, 2018 at 2:12 p.m.

    If you're good enough, you're old enough. Well done, Ben Mines. This is part of what cheeses me off--there are dozens of guys like Ben in the US--for MLS to bring in middling South Americans instead of building a stockpile of home-growns makes no sense. OK, MLS will need to sell on these guys (and MLS should encourage that) once their first contract is up, but that's just how the industry works--to fight that is a disservice to everyone involved.

  2. I w Nowozeniuk, March 12, 2018 at 6:02 p.m.

    Goal by Mines showed execution; well rewarded. 

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