At age 17, Mines scores in MLS debut for Red Bulls

Debuts don’t go much better than this.

Playing in his first Major League Soccer game, 17-year-old Ridgefielder Ben Mines scored the opening goal as the New York Red Bulls defeated the Portland Timbers, 4-0, in the season opener for both teams last Saturday night at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J.

Mines, a midfielder, found open space on the right side and ran onto a cross from teammate Kaku, sending a shot past the scrambling Portland goalie at the back post to give the Red Bulls a 1-0 lead in the 18th minute.

The Red Bulls added three goals in the second half to complete the 4-0 triumph.

“An unbelievable atmosphere last night and amazing to make my debut,” wrote Mines on his Twitter account after the game. “Buzzing to have scored as well but couldn’t have done it without my incredible teammates who have helped bring me into this team. Thank you so much to everyone for making this a night to remember.”

Mines, who turns 18 in May, is the fifth-youngest player to earn an MLS start for the Red Bulls and the third youngest to score, behind Eddie Gaven and Jozy Altidore.

Mines, who joined the Red Bulls academy program when he was a high school freshman, signed a Homegrown contract with the MLS team in the offseason, turning down a scholarship offer to play at Stanford University.

“It was easy decision to put him on the field tonight,” Red Bulls head coach Jesse Marsch told after the game. “I knew it going into last week that Ben Mines was playing tonight, and I was pretty confident that he was going to play well.

“For a 17-year-old in a man's world, he's fit right in,” Marsch added. “He's not intimidated. He's ready for this challenge.”