Mathias Jorgensen
New York Red Bulls

New York Red Bulls’ big offseason signing Mathias Jorgensen may be ready to make 2020 completely and utterly his. 

Onz Chery

“This is the job, your dream job, and that’s amazing when you do the job you like most,” New York Red Bulls‘ 19-year-old striker Mathias Jorgensen said in an interview with the club back on June 23.

Jorgensen raised his voice a bit.

“That’s also what I like, to be seen as a player who really worked hard to get my …  to get my place in the squad.”

You could sense the teenager’s ambition softly coming out of his voice.

The Red Bulls signed Jorgensen for $2.5 million from the Danish side Odense Boldklub on Feb. 12. The youngster was the perfect fit for the club; he’s a direct-minded attacker who presses the opposing defenders and the keeper as if his life depends on it.

With his price tag and being that he was an 18-year-old from Europe, one would’ve bet his rent money that the kid was going to play on the first team and get significant playing time.

Even RBNY sporting director Denis Hamlett expected Jorgensen to make his voice heard in New York shortly after they signed him.

“We expect him to have an impact from the get-go,” Hamlett told Pro Soccer USA reporter Dylan Butler in mid-February.

Jorgensen made his debut for New York on March 12 in the second leg of the Concacaf Champions League’s quarter-finals.

It was one of the most painful losses in the Red Bulls’ history. They lost the match, 4-2, to Club Santos Laguna after taking a 2-0 lead and were knocked out of the Champions League.

Santos netted their four goals between the 72nd and the 81st-minute. Jorgensen subbed in the match in the 65th-minute, so seven minutes after getting in his first game as a Red Bull player, the former OB man was on the wrong side of a scoring party.

Three days later, Jorgensen played four minutes in a league-game versus San Jose Earthquakes. He then came off the bench for four more MLS matches.

Unfortunately, the teenager didn’t impress enough to keep his spot in head coach Chris Armas’s rotation.

As mentioned, Jorgensen’s style of play fits perfectly in the Red Bulls’ system like the last piece of a puzzle but, as most people thought, his spot on the first team wasn’t sealed.

He has to show it.

“You have to achieve something in the game before you can say you were the right man to get into the line-up,” the forward said.

Jorgensen was dropped to The Metros’ second team in April.

At 18 years of age, he moved 3,765 miles away from home, leaving his family behind to play for New York and now there he was on the second’s team roster.

RBNY’s star forward, Bradley Wright-Phillips, picked up an injury on Apr. 25, maybe that was Jorgensen’s chance to get playing time again with the first team.

But no, Brian White and Tom Barlow were favored over him—Barlow was one of his teammates in the second team. Both players thrived. Barlow notched three goals in eight starts and White tallied nine goals in 19 appearances.

“Everybody has a quality so if you’re not in the squad then you can say to yourself the guy playing instead of you is such an amazing guy,” Jorgensen explained, “he has some qualities in the game, he can achieve success with the team.

“And then I can make an impact around the team afterward.”

Playing for New York’s second team is definitely not the end of the world, it’s part of the process for young players like Jorgensen or even older folks.

Aaron Long started his career with the Red Bulls in their second squad and he’s now an ever starter with the senior team and won the 2018 MLS Defender of the Year.

It’s similar to 19-year-old Cristian Casseres Jr. who needed to spend some time with the second team before being a regular on the A-team.

Jorgensen is well aware that it could take an awfully long time before he starts roaring with the big boys in the MLS. The European often talks about patience on social media.

Armas noted that one of the main reasons why Jorgensen didn’t succeed in his early days in the MLS is because of his physical strength.

“Our league is a very athletic and physical league,” the American coach said. “The way we play is very aggressive. Sometimes for young players, maybe they don’t know our league that well. There’s just an adjustment period.”

Hamlett admitted that the coaching staff might’ve pushed Jorgensen too early on the first team.

“With Mathias, look Mathias is still a young player. He’s [19]. It’s a big challenge coming across. We have to have patience,” the 50-year-old said in a press conference on Wednesday.

He later added, “We probably put him a little too early at the beginning of the year but we thought ‘Let’s just see how it goes.’”

It didn’t go so well in the MLS but Jorgensen excelled in the USL with the second team. He finished the season as RBNY II’s second top scorer, tallying 11 goals in 22 outings. The Dane’s performances earned him a spot in the USL’s Top 20 Under 20 players.

Hamlett is certain that his big winter signing will make a breakthrough next year.

“As the season went along, he was training, you can see he was getting confidence. He was getting better. So we feel very confident that come next season he’s going to have a major impact,” the Costa-Rican said.

White, Barlow and Long succeeded after spending a season down in the USL but they all did it outside their teen years.

Jorgensen is 19. If he does have a “major impact” on the first team next season that would make him without a doubt one of the best signings New York has ever made.

Originally from Haiti, Ralph 'Onz' Chery started his writing career as a City College of New York student with The Campus. He also wrote for First Touch, the Cosmopolitan Soccer League and other local leagues. After graduating, Onz started covering the New York Red Bulls for ESNY and joined Haitian Times.