Julian Hall navigates New Jersey child labor laws to earn Red Bulls time as 16-year-old

Julian Hall navigates New Jersey child labor laws to earn Red Bulls time as 16-year-old

Julian Hall is like any other teenager in New Jersey.

Hall, a New York City native, enjoys hanging out with his friends and playing video games — his go-to is “Call of Duty” — and at 16 years old, he still falls under the protection of the state’s child labor laws, which created a uniquely soccer situation this season for the Red Bulls’ young forward.

Before turning 16 on March 24, Hall had been subject to New Jersey child labor laws that prevented 14- and 15-year-olds from working before 7 a.m. and past 7:30 p.m.

Julian Hall made his season debut for the Red Bulls on March 23.Julian Hall made his season debut for the Red Bulls on March 23. USA TODAY Sports

That meant the homegrown forward for the New Jersey-based Red Bulls couldn’t make his season debut until recently because most of the club’s games started after 7:30 p.m.

“I mean, it wasn’t an ideal situation, but we got there in the end,” Hall told The Post ahead of Saturday’s Red Bulls match against LAFC.

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Hall was finally able to make his season debut on March 23, when the Red Bulls beat up a Lionel Messi-less Inter Miami side in an afternoon match at Red Bull Arena

He subbed in for the final 11 minutes of the game as the Red Bulls picked up their third win of the young MLS season.

Hall was allowed to be on the bench during a February match against Nashville, but Red Bulls head coach Sandro Schwarz is happy to now have him available more consistently.

“It’s a good thing now that we know he’s able to play every week and I don’t have to look and maybe an away game he’s able,” Schwarz explained. “It’s good that he’s also then in our rhythm, in our training rhythm and also then sometimes you have the opportunity to play for the second team. This is necessary for these young players.”

Hall signed with the Red Bulls last season at 15 years, 167 days old, making him the second-youngest homegrown signing in franchise history.

He’s got plenty of expectations placed upon him.

The teen has been part of Red Bulls Academy since 2020, played 10 games for the Red Bulls reserve team in the MLS Next Pro league in 2023 before signing an MLS contract.

Julian Hall, defending during the Red Bulls' March 23 game, was the second-youngest homegrown signing in franchise history.Julian Hall, defending during the Red Bulls’ March 23 game, was the second-youngest homegrown signing in franchise history. USA TODAY Sports

He made his MLS debut in September, becoming the second-youngest player to debut in MLS since Freddy Adu played his first game for the league at 14 years, 306 days.

Earlier this year, Hall had been linked to interest from some of Europe’s top clubs including Chelsea, Manchester City, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich.

“I wasn’t blind to all of these things,” Hall said of the expectations and overseas interest. “I clearly see the things that are going on and whatever’s going on, on social media, but I just tried to stay away from it. Like I said, I’m true to myself. I know what I’m doing.”

It’s not often that an athlete Hall’s age is able to turn pro in the United States.

The NBA, NFL and MLB have age restrictions for players in the respective leagues that would prevent a similar situation.

While the practice is more common in domestic leagues overseas, it has happened in the United States on occasion in soccer — last year 13-year-old Da’vian Kimbrough signed a pro contract with the Sacramento Republic FC of the United Soccer League.

Hall described the experience of turning pro so young as life-changing and acknowledged he wished he could experience more of “teenage life,” but he added that he doesn’t take anything for granted.

“I try to take every opportunity outside of practice and games to just live a normal life,” Hall said. “I think ever since I became a professional, I haven’t changed as a person. I’ve always been the same person I’ve been since I was younger.”

Hall will be on the bench in Los Angeles this weekend for the Red Bulls, and he’s expecting more opportunities to open up with the labor law issue out of the way.

“I think it’s just more of having that trust in the coaches and [their] trust in me to whenever they feel the time is right to give me that opportunity,” Hall said.

There is an effort in the New Jersey State legislature to allow for minors who are 14 and 15 years old and are employed as “professional athletes” special working hours “after 11 p.m. and following 12:01 a.m. of the next day if that employment is a continuation of a workday which began before 11 p.m.”

A bill was introduced last month in the state senate and referred to the senate labor committee.