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Hartnett: A Tribute To Red Bulls' Youth Coach Michael Jones

By Sean Hartnett
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When I heard news of the tragic death of 25-year-old New York Red Bulls' youth coach Michael Jones, it hit me hard.

While I never crossed paths with Michael, I can't help but feel close to him based upon one season spent covering the Red Bulls, a shared passion for English soccer giants Liverpool F.C., a keen interest in soccer and a love of the West and East Village.

Michael Jones
Michael Jones inside Liverpool F.C.'s dressing room. (Photo via Liverpool Echo.)

I'd imagine if I met Michael, I probably would've struck up a fast friendship.  Michael is from Southport, Merseyside, England where a close friend of mine hails from.  My experiences meeting people from Merseyside have been full of joy and pleasant times.  They are probably some of the most fun-loving people you could ever encounter.  From everything I've read about Michael, I truly wish I had known this man.

Youth coaching is a job I greatly admire and Michael had the opportunity to make a positive impact on young children from the ages of 7-to-13 who shared his passion for soccer.

I attended local area soccer camps throughout my youth and appreciated the positive impact these coaches made on my life just as much as I did the coaching expertise they passed on to me.

The New York Red Bulls' academy teams have enjoyed tremendous success this season and I'm sure much of that success is due to Michael's commitment to his role as Red Bulls' youth coach.  My hope is that some of the kids Michael reached in the youth academy will one day go on to play at the high school, college and possibly even the professional level.  That would be a wonderful tribute to his memory.

The Red Bulls released an official statement on their website on Sunday:

"We are aware of this tragedy and on behalf of the entire organization, want to send our most heartfelt condolences to Michael's family, friends and loved ones. He was a tremendous individual, a fantastic coach who loved soccer and a terrific friend for many of us. This is truly a sad day for our soccer community and we will do our utmost to help authorities in their investigation of this case. Our thoughts and prayers are with Michael's family at this time."

The Tarleton Corinthians Football Club of Preston, U.K. also released a statement.  Michael played Sunday League soccer with the Corinthians before moving to the United States to pursue his ambitions of coaching youth soccer.

"Michael played for Tarleton Corinthians FC from the start of the 2003/04 season, playing with our teams in the Preston and District league.  The next season, he signed for our Sunday league team, and was a regular for both teams.  His first love was always football, and it was no surprise when he moved to the USA to coach professionally.  Jonesy still played for Tarleton when he came home in the close season; he always wanted a game with the boys!  Always 'one of the lads' himself, he could be relied upon to share a joke and was a particularly popular member of the squad.  He was well respected by the players and leagues with whom he played.

Everyone associated with Tarleton Corinthians is saddened by the loss of a great friend and team-mate.  Our thoughts are with his family and friends at such a devastating loss."

In good times and bad, Liverpool supporters sing the club anthem "You'll Never Walk Alone."  They are truly a worldwide supported club, but also a tight-knit community.

That community extends to New York where the official New York Liverpool Supporters Club is located on East 11th street.

You'll Never Walk Alone, Michael -- and your legacy will continue on.  My most heartfelt condolences to the Jones family, his friends, the entire New York Red Bulls' organization, Tarleton Corinthians and Armonk United youth soccer team.


- Sean Hartnett

You can reach Sean on Twitter at --@HartnettWFAN.

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