Alex Muyl
(Steve Luciano/AP Photo)

The New York Red Bulls received a major lift from Alex Muyl off the bench last week and the midfielder was recognized for his performance.

New York Red Bulls midfielder Alex Muyl is an expert at playing the club’s system. He’s a player who remains reliable whether starting a match or coming off the bench. All his versatility was rewarded with an MLS Team of the Week selection.

Although Alex Muyl played in 38 matches last year, his name wasn’t in the New York Red Bulls’ gameday roster against their CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal match against Club Santos Laguna on March 12, one of the team’s most important matches of the season.

Four days later, Muyl made the gameday squad of RBNY’s MLS home opener against San Jose Earthquakes but wasn’t in the starting lineup. Florian Valot suffered an injury in the 35th minute of the match. The team’s head coach, Chris Armas, replaced him with Muyl.

Guess what? The 23-year-old scored his first ever brace (two goals) to rally New York back from a one-goal deficit. This performance propelled him to the MLS Team of the Week. Muyl is the first Red Bull player to receive the honor this season.

The Metros’ all-time leading scorer Bradley Wright-Philips is inspired by the youngster because he was strong enough mentally to score a brace after being left out of the team sheet in the previous match.

“I had a little word with Alex just telling him how much character that shows. Getting left out when he wants to help the team win, and to come back and score two, and to help us get that win is a credit to him,” Wright-Phillips said to Bryan Loor-Almonte of NewYorkRedBulls.com

Armas explained that he didn’t put Muyl on the gameday roster against Santos because the team was down 2-0 in the series and the American isn’t a typical goal scorer nor a player who will bolt past defenders. Muyl netted 10 goals in 113 appearances before the game against Santos.

“Going into Santos we were down two-nothing, almost any other scoreline he can be starting that game,” the 46-year-old coach said in a postmatch conference. “But you almost got to think, alright we need a goal in the last ten minutes. Can he get it? Probably, right?’”

“But [Andreas] Ivan, Derrick Etienne on the day, with some 1-v-1 ability to break down individually was important as they did in leg one, so it was a decision that made sense for the game that day,” Armas later added.

Because Muyl isn’t an entertaining player, a midfielder who will take his opponents on he doesn’t receive much recognition outside of the locker room.

“I’ll say one thing about Alex Muyl, he doesn’t get enough credit and enough appreciation on the outside,” Armas said. “On the inside, we know what he brings and we have a pleasure of working with a guy like him.”

As mentioned, the New York native does not share the same aggressive nature of many of his teammates. NYRB remains one of the most attack-minded teams in the league. So what exactly does Muyl bring that the club appreciates so much?

Other NYC Teams

The former Georgetown man is a worker, he prioritizes the team instead of himself, he’s strong enough to accept when his name is not in the starting XI, and he will be ready to jump in the game when needed.

“I think he’s a guy that cares about the team and he always puts the team first,” midfielder Sean Davis said of Muyl to Loor-Almonte. “He shows up every day, ready to work, willing to work. And even when his number’s not called on, he has a great attitude. It’s something that maybe people from the outside don’t see but we’re lucky to have a guy like Alex.”

Another reason why Muyl is so valuable for the Red Bulls is because he mastered the art of playing the club’s system.

“He understands the way we play we call him a philosophy player, he works, he runs he’s intelligent at what he does,” Armas said in the postgame conference.

The midfielder is a former RBNY academy player and has been on the first team for three years, which explains why he’s so familiar with the club’s system. In his first goal against the Earthquakes, Muyl starts making his way in the box before Wright-Philips even shoots the ball.

And even after San Jose keeper’s Daniel Vega saved the Englishman’s shot, Muyl put himself in a good position for Daniel Royer to cross the ball to him. Not many players have the awareness to do that—let alone a 23-year-old midfielder.

A player who is hardworking and selfless while being able to play the team’s system doesn’t come around easily. Muyl might not be in the spotlight week in and week out, but he can play a valuable role on a championship team.

The Supporters’ Shield champions’ captain Luis Robles touched on how important players with Muyl’s mentality is for the success of the team.

“If we are going to do something special this year, it’s the character [Muyl’s selflessness] we have to strive for the rest of the season and hold on to,” Robles told Loor-Almonte.

His teammates are genuinely excited about his progress and fit. Perhaps this strong week will lead to bigger and better things for the midfielder.

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