With each stage that Dylan Sullivan has advanced in his career, there has been a moment in which he marveled at the level of competition and thought to himself, “Damn, this is difficult. I’m gonna have to dig deeper and find a way.”
With that, there also is a bit of reflection, the Wappingers Falls native thinking of his journey to that point and everything it took to get there. The glance back as he moves forward always has made him appreciative of his position, and provided a reminder of the diligence required to succeed there.
Sullivan had another of those look-backs this week, remembering himself as a child with lofty dreams, fantasizing about moments like these. That was after he signed a professional soccer contract with the New York Red Bulls II.
“I’m extremely grateful for it, as I am with the opportunities I’ve gotten before,” he said. “I’m excited to work with the team and better myself and, hopefully, help the organization.”
Sullivan graduated from Clemson University in December and has been with the Red Bulls since February after being invited to try out during their preseason. He impressed coaches and team officials enough to be offered an MLS NEXT Pro contract to join the New Jersey-based developmental team. That signing, of course, creates for him a potential path to the Red Bulls first team, should he earn a promotion.
“It’s something he’s worked extremely hard for since he was a little boy,” his father, Darryl Sullivan, said. “We can’t say enough about him and we’re very excited.”
Dylan Sullivan, 22, had played for the Red Bulls Academy from the eighth grade throughout high school. He then made his mark as a defensive midfielder, helping Clemson win the NCAA Division I men’s soccer championship in 2021.
“Playing for one of the top teams in the county, every day you’d go in to training, you’d know there was a high standard to uphold,” he said. “Every session I’d have to give my best because everyone around me was doing the same. That’s the mentality I carry with me.”
In joining the Red Bulls II, Dylan Sullivan follows in the footsteps of his older brother, Tyler Adams, who began his professional career with that team. Adams went on to star for the first team, eventually signed a lucrative deal with Leeds United in the Premier League, and captained the United States in the World Cup last fall.
The Red Bulls have long viewed Dutchess County as a viable talent pool. Before Adams, there was Matthew Mahoney, another Roy C. Ketcham High School graduate, and more recently there was Curtis Ofori, a 17-year-old from Wappingers Falls who in December signed a “homegrown” contract with the first team.
“We’re continuing to see the growth of soccer in the Hudson Valley with regard to talent and skill,” Dylan Sullivan said. “We have excellent teams in the area and youth organizations doing a good job of developing kids. Us having a chance to reach the professional level is a testament to that.”
The biggest adjustment from college to the pros thus far, Dylan said, was the speed and high-intensity style the Red Bulls emphasize. It‘s similar to his training in their academy, but Clemson focused more heavily on technique and played a controlled possession game.
“I had to dust off some cobwebs the first few days,” he said, “but I got comfortable with it.”
Darryl Sullivan formerly coached high school and collegiate soccer, and has seen two of his sons climb to incredible heights in the sport. Success to that degree, he said, requires “skill, natural talent, a lot of effort and a lot of luck.”
“I knew he was athletic and had the desire to do this,” the father said, “but you never know how it’s gonna turn out. He’s put in the work and has already accomplished a lot.”
For Dylan, there is plenty more to achieve and an obvious next step for him, he said, is to excel and try to make his way onto the Major League Soccer roster.
“There are goals I want to reach, but the best way to approach that for me is to focus on each day and accomplish the small things I have set in front of me,” he said. “I want to live in the moment and get those small wins each day, and it usually adds up to something big.”
Stephen Haynes: firstname.lastname@example.org; 845-437-4826; Twitter: @StephenHaynes4
This article originally appeared on Poughkeepsie Journal: Soccer: Wappingers' star Dylan Sullivan signs with New York Red Bulls