Duke senior forward Brian White has made his case over his four-year career with the Blue Devils as one of the nation’s top forward prospects. He entered the first round of MLS Combine matches on Saturday intent on displaying that quality for the MLS and USL coaches in the audience.
In that endeavor, White was successful, impressing in his initial field time at the week-long event. Playing largely on the right wing, White displayed the speed, athleticism and attacking mind that makes him such an intriguing talent. At one point, White played a brilliant ball in from the right that found the feet of Creighton’s Ricky Lopez-Espin, whose tap-in finish credited White with an assist.
“I played out wide and was looking to make some simple plays, just display my game,” White told USLPDL.com. “I got an opportunity to cross the ball in and so I put it towards the back post and set it up for Ricky, who put it in.”
Contributing on the attacking end was not a novel experience for White, whose Duke career is simply littered with goals and assists. After accumulating 13 of the former and eight of the latter, White broke out his senior season, reaching double-digit goals for the first time with 10, leading the team, and tallying three more assists.
Similarly, White also broke out in the summer prior to his senior season in the Premier Development League with the New York Red Bulls U23. After spending some time in 2015 with the team, White eclipsed all expectations in 2017, scoring 17 goals and three assists to earn the PDL Golden Boot and MVP.
“I think the training sessions we had and the players that the Red Bulls brought it enabled me to be successful,” said White. “It’s been a great academy for years and they’ve brought in a mix of their own players and new players and I think we gelled well as a team. My teammates put me in good spots to score some goals.”
“Playing with the Red Bulls was a great experience,” he continued. “Having an opportunity to play with the first team and second team was enormous and really helped me grow as a player. I’m very glad they brought me in.”
Given the clear link between his stellar senior season at Duke and his explosive summer with the Red Bulls U23 just prior, White is effusive over how the PDL aided his development. A clear success story of spending his summers in North America’s top pre-professional league, White now stands poised and ready to make the leap to MLS.
“I think the PDL is huge for player development,” White said. “The college season is very limited in the number of training sessions and games. In the spring, the NCAA rules don’t help in terms of getting time on the ball. So getting to spend the summer in the PDL, training every day and playing really helps you grow as a player.”