When Jared Stroud was picked second in the 2020 MLS Expansion Draft, it’s unlikely many Austin FC fans had heard of the midfielder. After all, he was a fourth-round selection in the 2018 MLS SuperDraft and had played just one season in MLS. After three games, there’s little doubt that the 24-year-old's name recognition among the Austin fanbase has skyrocketed.
After coming off the bench in ATXFC’s first match, Stroud has started each of the last two matches on the right wing and played a part in two of Austin’s four goals. On Saturday against Minnesota United FC he provided the assist on the lone goal of the match as Austin won their second game in a row.
“He's a machine, he works tirelessly,” said head coach Josh Wolff after the win over Minnesota on Saturday. “That's infectious around the entire field and it certainly helps us in a lot of ways, both offensively and defensively.”
The winger was known for his tireless work ethic, having played in the Red Bulls’ high-press system, which teammate Jon Gallagher was quick to point out when asked about Stroud.
“I think he’s done excellent. We always said we’re pretty similar in our style of play. We’re gritty, we work hard [and we] run a lot,” Gallagher said of Stroud on Friday. The two faced off a total of three times in the USL Championship when Gallagher was playing with Atlanta United II and Stroud was with New York Red Bulls II.
But he has just been as impressive when having the opportunity to get on the ball, as his four chances created are tied for the second most on the team.
That shouldn’t have been such a surprise considering his record while playing with Red Bulls II. Stroud had a total of 22 goals and 20 assists during his time in the USL Championship and was named to the All-League First Team in 2019.
“I had high expectations for myself personally coming into the season just because last year I thought I played well,” said Stroud during a press conference on Friday. “I started in the majority of games for a playoff team, which gave me confidence for this year.”
The former Colgate Raider played 924 minutes for the Red Bulls in 2020, collecting two assists. Stroud said during a press conference on Friday that he didn’t know much about Austin FC when he was selected during the Expansion Draft, with ATXFC goalkeeper coach Preston Burpo being the only person he had any familiarity with as Burpo held the same position at RBNY from 2016-20.
“I saw some initial hype just from Instagram and MLS about the team so I knew it was exciting. But I didn’t know how great it would be, to be honest. I didn’t know how great the fanbase would be and how organized the club would be.”
He’ll continue to battle Rodney Redes for playing time on the right wing, but it’s clear that he is more than comfortable fitting into the starting XI, especially if the Verde & Black continue winning.
“I think everything’s better when you’re winning. The food tastes better, everyone’s happier, there’s a better vibe around the club when you win.”