John Tolkin has a big fan in Gerhard Struber. (USA TODAY Sports)
Gerhard Struber says that he would not be surprised if John Tolkin gets called into the U.S. men’s national team this year.
Given the way the 20-year-old left has grown during his two years with the Red Bulls, he could be a candidate sometime this year.
“We know that we have some interesting players,” the Red Bulls head coach said during a Zoom media conference call on Tuesday afternoon. “They are growing, and they are also interesting for their countries to play in the national team.
“I think with John Tolkin, of course, he is a player for the next step. He has the ability to play in the national team [which] would be not a surprise for me.”
Tolkin, a Chatham, N.J. native, has made 51 appearances for the Red Bulls.
Struber also touted midfielder Cristian Casseres, Jr. and center back Andres Reyes.
“They can make the next step also in the national team and this is also I think a very good situation for me,” he said. “We develop players. I think we are not surprised that something will come. We always can handle that.”
With the departure of center back Aaron Long, who signed with Los Angeles FC, Struber will need to find a new captain.
The coach felt that should not be a problem since the team has several natural leaders.
“Aaron was a very helpful captain in this direction with his leadership, power, but I think also on the same time we have interesting young players,” Struber said. “They can take the responsibility. I think we have a handful players they can take this role. I will use the next few weeks to decide.”
Struber said that defender Sean Nealis was “an interesting player for this role. He showed me this in the last two years that he takes responsibility.”
He noted that midfielder Lewis Morgan was an experienced player “with a top season behind him,” adding that goalkeeper Carlos Coronel and Casseres could be in the running.
“I have more players,” Struber said. “They are ready to take responsibility and push the whole group in a successful direction, but in the end, I think I have no stress and also, I think we do not need to make a decision now.”