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May 28, 2011
Kassel makes promising debut as sub

Red Bulls rookie Matt Kassel: "The job's not done yet. It's a starting process,"
Red Bulls rookie Matt Kassel: "The job's not done yet. It's a starting process,"
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
VANCOUVER -- Matt Kassel looked at it as his first steps as a professional soccer player and that bigger things were on the horizon.

The Bridgewater, N.J. made his MLS debut as a Red Bull, coming on for defender Carlos Mendes in the 70th minute in the Red Bulls' 1-1 draw with the Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Saturday. Kassel, a midfielder, is a home-grown player signing after performing in the Red Bulls Academy for several years.

"Obviously it's something special playing for my home team to get out onto the pitch," he said. "It's a dream come true. Obviously, the job's not done yet. It's a starting process, getting on the field. Hopefully more minutes will come. I'm excited. I'm glad we got a point on the road. Obviously, we'd like to have three. But overall, it's a pretty positive effort."

Only 10 minutes into his pro debut, Kassel almost scored his first pro goal. He sent a 22-yard volley that was tipped over the crossbar by goalkeeper Jay Nolly.

"It was actually a late run to the box," Kassel said, adding that Dwayne De Rosario "picked his head up and saw me trailing him. He played a great ball. I wish I got it in the air but I didn't. It took a bounce, a funny hop. I hit it decent. The goalie made a good save on it. Obviously I wish it would have gone in. It was a good effort."

With five Red Bulls seeing action at the CONCACAF Gold Cup in June, Kassel and players such as Austin da Luz are expected to see more playing time in the coming weeks. Da Luz also made his debut, replacing Luke Rodgers in the 69th minute.

Kassel welcomed the opportunity.

"It's great," he said. "When guys go away for internationals or whatever it is, it's a chance for young guys to prove themselves, Coming in, there's always going to be chances. This is a chance for people to show the coach and coaching staff and the rest of the players what we have. We have done a lot of hard work the past few weeks and months. It's finally time for it to pay off."

Rodgers realizes that younger players getting playing time will pay off as the season progresses.

"The next month we're going to sending a lot more of them," he said. "When you've got fresh players on the team, it always refreshes the team up. So hopefully it will bring us some good luck."
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