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Ones to Watch: Bento Estrela

By Evan Unger, 02/16/21, 3:00PM EST

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Soccer Domain FC (SDFC) had a history of producing top talent in New Jersey. Mason Toye, star of Minnesota United called the club home, as well as countless college stars such as Miles Hackett, Troy Carrington, Jose Meza, Michael Sorin, and Patrick Thees. Teams participated in the USYS National League, and were annual participants at USYS Eastern Regionals as a NJYS State Cup Champions. It was also the first home in youth soccer for Bento Estrela, the latest homegrown signing for the New York Red Bulls.


Estrela played for SDFC Bayern, coached by Kieran Patrick. With SDFC Bayern, Estrela was a key reason the team was known as a top contender in the region. As so many players in the state did, Estrela spent his summers playing in EDP Tournaments at Fort Dix, where he would match up with other top players. Following a similar path of NYCFC homegrown Tayvon Gray, Estrela would go from SDFC to Cedar Stars Academy Bergen in the US Soccer Development Academy.


“Bento joined us at SDFC as an extremely raw player who loved nothing more than the soccer ball, possessing a comfort with the ball at his feet, matched by his wonderful athletic traits.  Bento could easily dominate a game in any position due to his physical and technical abilities, but he was committed and patient enough at a young age to trust that he needed to improve his game IQ and use his abilities within the framework of a team. Bento’s natural talents are clear for everyone to see, but the success and opportunities are down to his desire to make the most of those talents in the MLS and beyond.”
— Kieran Patrick, Former Coach at SDFC and Current Cedar Stars Academy Newark Director


With Cedar Stars Academy Bergen, Estrela was coached by Lee Leonard, and was once again the focal point for opponents, helping the team reach new levels of success. Estrela would then go on to play for Red Bulls Academy team, quickly finding success with the older players. He has scored goals playing with the U19’s and was very impressive in the ICC Futures Tournament against top academy teams from across the world. 


“Bento is a player with natural and unique qualities. This young man puts everything into his development; works tirelessly to maximize his unique qualities and improve on the other aspects of his game. He is relentless in his pursuit of excellence to a level that you rarely see. His humility, accompanied with his dedication to his craft, along with the family he has guiding him inevitably set him apart and have made today his reality. Keeping his feet on the ground, he can achieve whatever he wants within this game.”
— Lee Leonard, Former Coach and Current TSF Academy Director


At just 14 years old, Estrela is the fourth youngest signing in MLS history, and the third youngest homegrown signing in league history. He is the 24th homegrown signing in club history, and will look to join other former EDP stars if he sees time with Red Bulls II this upcoming season.


“My memories of playing at Fort Dix in EDP events were always a great experience, they were competitive and a lot of fun. Playing with my friends and playing with a lot of high level players are great memories I will take with me throughout my career.”
— Bento Estrela