Kevin Paredes opens up about his transfer from D.C. United to Wolfsburg: ‘The right move to challenge myself’


Kevin Paredes became the latest American rising star to switch Major League Soccer for Bundesliga this winter when he completed his move from D.C. United to VfL Wolfsburg and the teenager has been loving every minute of his German adventure so far.

Paredes, 18, told CBS Sports exclusively of his happiness with the move and how it has been a whirlwind since January when the South Riding, Virginia, native found himself flying the nest and returning to Volkswagen Arena after a previous 2019 stint.

“It has been very crazy, and I am happy to be here on this new journey,” the versatile left-sided talent said. “I thought this was very good timing for everything that has been going on and with my recent success. I think that this was the right move to challenge myself and make a name for myself after doing it in MLS, to do it in the Bundesliga too.

“It did come about fast. A lot of teams were interested but when my agent called me about Wolfsburg, how much interest and support they had showed me, it was a no-brainer. They really put their trust in me to join the team and I am going to do my absolute best for the club.

“I came here in 2019 and did a little with the academy a couple of years ago. I know a little about the city but also how they can develop players and make them better. That is pretty much all I needed to know — it was an easy choice to come.”

As Kevin Mbabu told CBS in a previous exclusive, Wolfsburg is a quiet venue for a topflight European soccer team and Paredes agrees that it is the perfect place to focus on his game and develop at pace while continuing to adapt to his new surroundings with help from the likes of John Brooks.

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“I think that this is a great place,” Paredes told CBS exclusively. “In the States, in D.C. and all, there is lots to do and to be distracted by. For me, I want to be the best that I can possibly be. This is the perfect place to do it. Like Kevin said, there is not that much to do here, which is fine, but since I got here, I have only been thinking about soccer. This is a perfect place to learn and to settle to show my best qualities.

“Fellow American Jay [John Brooks] has been such a great help and having someone who speaks English and knows the situation I am in right now as a teen away from my family is something he knows. He has been so great, and Aster (Vranckx) is 19, from Belgium and away from family and friends. He took me go-karting for the first time a couple of days ago, so these two have been great to get me settled down and comfortable. I have a second family over here.”

With so many young USMNT talents now plying their trade in Germany, the players have a substantial network of contacts which is reflected in how close Paredes and his new Bundesliga compatriots are.

“I am in contact with pretty much all the Americans over here but the one that I have probably stayed in closest contact with is Justin Che at Hoffenheim,” said Die Wolfe’s new No. 40. “He and I have been close friends since our first time on the under-16 team and he is a great guy. George Bello also just made his move, and I am happy for him. We met recently on a Nike trip and then we were in national team camp together. I just followed Chris Richards on Instagram and he commented on my picture from yesterday so that was nice to see the way they support a fellow American.

“Two guys used to play in the D.C. Academy with Bryang Kayo and Michael Edwards, so I knew them well. These guys I keep in contact with, and they are just great people — supportive.”

Paredes recognized the value of picking a club with a system which suits his style of play rather than adapting to a new one at such a young age as Florian Kohfeldt continues to work to arrest a difficult start to the season which saw Wolfsburg bow out of the UEFA Champions League.

“Wolfsburg play in a system which I fit with perfectly,” said Paredes. “They like to get forward, be dangerous and attack, get out fast — that is how I have seen it so far. That is how I like to play, to be as direct as possible, score and make assists. Like I said, it was a bit of a no-brainer to join.”

The Germans are one of Europe’s most forward-thinking clubs and they pride themselves on their inspirational green focus and environmentally friendly approach which Pardes found out firsthand as he settled into life in Lower Saxony.

“Since I have been here, they have been aware of resources,” he admitted. “I went to throw away a water bottle and I did not know it was such a big deal. They all rushed over to me and were like no, you must put it in a crate to recycle. They are really about their business and the environment, so it has been different to what I am used to.”

Paredes’ new employers, who also boast one of the continent’s strongest women’s teams, will be launching the StrongHer movement in March which is an initiative geared towards empowering women in soccer and promoting the public perception of female athletes.

The StrongHer lighthouse project will also seek to provide access to disadvantaged girls and target discrimination of any kind towards females across the sports and education sector while providing training, education and mentoring support while also supporting the relaunch of Chattanooga FC’s Women’s Team and there are plans to partner with an NWSL team.

From 2022, Chattanooga will exist once more and Wolfsburg will support the club with youth work, player development, and coaching education which will be extended as a resource virtually and on-site in the U.S.





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