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'We play for them': Austin FC playmaker Jared Stroud is a man for the fans​

(Los Verdes/Facebook)

Jersey Number: 20

Hometown: Chester, New Jersey

Position: Right winger

Age: 24

Former club: New York Red Bulls


Background

Back before Jared Stroud helped Austin FC to two of the team's four goals, the 24-year-old right winger was quickly rising up the ranks at the New York Red Bulls.

After graduating from Colgate University, men's soccer standout, where he was named to the All-Patriot League twice, Stroud was drafted to USL side New York Red Bulls II in 2018, where he scoring seven goals and added 11 assists. A year later, Stroud was the team leader with 15 goals and nine assists in his 34 appearances, granting him a berth in the first-division New York Red Bulls.

In his first season with the MLS, Stroud added two assists to the club in 20 appearances. It wasn't an ideal debut, however, and the onset of the pandemic kept stands quiet for his inaugural professional season.

Still, Stroud helped take the team to the playoffs in 2020. When Stroud was chosen as Austin FC's second pick in the MLS Expansion Draft, he felt ready to play outside of New York for the first time and bring his best to Austin.

"I thought I played well and started in the majority of games for a playoff team which gave me confidence for this year to kind of work on that and get better," Stroud said. "For me, I have my personal goals in terms of numbers, but right now, it's just about approaching every game in the best way possible."

With Austin FC

The former Colgate all-time assist leader is back to doing what he knows best. Stroud helped solidify Austin FC's first-ever win streak after sending a perfectly-placed cross to Diego Fagundez to land his first assist with the club. The goal mirrored a week prior when Fagundez capitalized off a deflected shot by Stroud and brought in Austin FC's first-ever goal.

In just three weeks, Stroud has found his groove with five shots and an assists, and he's already had more shots on goal (2) than he ever did with the Red Bulls. He may be the man of the moment, but Stroud wasn't expected to start at right wing at the beginning of the season.

Stroud helped change the tempo of the game vs. LAFC when the club fell into a rut in the second half, coming in for Rodney Redes in the 59th minute and injecting more energy into their gameplay. He was rewarded with a starting spot the next week vs. LAFC, which head coach Josh Wolff said was well-deserved.

"He's tireless and unapologetically he competes with his teammates and with the opponent, which is great because that becomes infectious." Wolff said. "And he's somebody that's there every day... he helped get us going right directions."

Stroud has at least temporarily replaced fellow right winger Redes in the starting lineup, but that's not due to anything Redes has done. Wolff has stated that it's a great feeling when there's too many starting options for a club instead of too few, and even though Stroud is competing with Redes, he said the two are great friends on and off the pitch.

"We're all super good friends," Stroud said. "Between all the wingers, we want to see each other grow and get better... and that's an important part of the team is just to have that competitive spirit and to have guys fighting for positions."

Now with two wins on the record, Stroud said the energy's been much livelier on and off the pitch, and they hope to keep that running as they face Sporting Kansas City this weekend.

"I think everything's better when you're winning," Stroud said. "Everyone's happier, there's a better vibe around the club. Getting the monkey off our back in Colorado, the plane ride home was super fun. That's why we want to go out there and get results every week for everyone."

Off the pitch

(Jared Stroud/Instagram)

Stroud's family hadn't seen him play since before the pandemic began in 2020, but the two got a big dosage of that Austin soccer spirit when they traveled to watch him play in Minnesota. They were immediately welcomed and invited to watch the match with Austin FC fans Los Verdes, something that Stroud said was a great experience for their first match back.

"It was really nice to have them fly out and be vaccinated and see them again, and knowing they were up there was nice," Stroud said. "They they enjoyed the fans (and) they had a blast.

Stroud is a man of the fans himself. Just as Diego Fagundez held up the "LV" in honor of Los Verdes after his first goal and Alex Ring led a fan chant after the Colorado Rapids victory, Stroud honored the fans with a photo after the match. He said the fans are his main motivator and he's happy to have them around after a year of silence in the pandemic.

"They're, they're the livelihood of the club, they're the energy of the club, (and) we play for them," Stroud said. "I swear they were louder than the Colorado fans, (and) It was great to interact with them and see them at every game. It means it means the world to us, and we see them in the crowd."

Stroud also has a brother, Peter Stroud, who is following in his footsteps and made the All-ACC Men's Soccer Third Team as a freshman midfielder at Duke.

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