There haven’t been too many pinch-me moments yet for New York Red Bulls rookie and New Jersey native Peter Stroud. However, his MLS debut in last weekend’s 1-0 loss to Orlando City SC certainly qualified as one.
Stroud entered the match in the 79th minute marking his first appearance for the team he grew up rooting for.
“I definitely think the Orlando (game) was kind of a pinch myself experience,” Stroud told amNewYork during a phone conversation on Wednesday. “Going away and playing in that stadium was something that was kind of like, ‘wow, this is pretty awesome.’ You try to hone it in obviously because you have a job to do, but that was kind of a pinch-me experience.”
It’s probably safe to say that Stroud will have a similar experience this Saturday when the Red Bulls return to Harrison, New Jersey for their home opener against Nashville. The 20-year-old, two-time ACC Midfielder of the Year signed a three-year MLS Homegrown contract in January with the Red Bulls after leaving Duke University early.
Stroud was born in Chester Township and played for the Red Bulls Acadamy under-12 team growing up. His first few weeks with the Red Bulls have been a whirlwind for Stroud, who said that things have moved quickly for him since first arriving at camp.
“It’s a big step for me as a kid, you know, especially growing up in the Jersey area watching Red Bulls play,” Stroud said. “Growing up, That was always a goal and dream of mine to play for them and took a step in that direction obviously making my debut so it was an amazing feeling for me personally.”
Red Bulls head coach Gerhard Struber liked what he saw out of Stroud, calling him very mobile and a quick learner when discussing the midfielder with amNewYork. The New York coach said that right now the Red Bulls will look to insert Stroud into the game at the right moment, but indicated that philosophy could change going forward.
“I think for him it’s also important that we find a fair balance of responsibility in the game and that he is ready to develop,” Struber said.
Stroud indicated that there haven’t been too many discussions yet about what his role will be with the team going forward. His focus is on getting better each day and growing into an integral part of the team.
The midfielder doesn’t know if he’ll play in Saturday’s home opener at Red Bull Arena, but he will have family at the game who Stroud said are big Red Bulls fans. “If I do obviously get the chance to play Red Bull Arena that would be another amazing feeling for sure,” Stroud said.
Saturday’s match against Nashville presents New York with a chance to bounce back after a tough season-opening loss in the Sunshine state. The Red Bulls created a number of chances to sore during the 90-minute affair, but never capitalized and then were done in by a penalty kick goal in the 56th minute.
Struber felt there was still plenty to like from the effort.
“We had some very, very good moments in Orlando,” Struber said. “Of course also we speak about what we have to do better and we know that when you have three or four highlight chances, you have to use that. I think also in this way we have to be clearer and also to be more focused in this moment to score. … I think this game we have big respect for Nashville, but also in the same time we know what is our strength and how we can break Nashville.”