Signed on Friday, March 10, straight into the match-day squad on Saturday, March 11: the New York Red Bulls wasted little time in getting new arrival Fredrik Gulbrandsen on the field. He made his MLS debut against Colorado Rapids within 24 hours of arriving in the USA - and that meant he had to be given a squad number.
Newest #RBNY player Fredrik Gulbrandsen makes the 18-man roster for #NYvCOL. He will wear No. 9. pic.twitter.com/vzUuizdNpU— New York Red Bulls (@NewYorkRedBulls) March 11, 2017
RBNY has handed Gulbrandsen the number 9 shirt for the 2017 season: the same number worn by Tab Ramos, John Wolyniec, Juan Pablo Angel, and latter-day cult hero Luke Rodgers (per MetroFanatic's magnificent archive).
Gulbrandsen was likened to Rodgers by Jan Gunnar Solli, who played with the latter for RBNY and against the former in Norway. Solli told Metro's (no relation) Kristian Dyer that Gulbrandsen was, more or less, a technically-superior version of the ebullient Englishman who won over Red Bulls fans in 2011. Though Solli, more tellingly perhaps, also said he found it difficult to name a true analog for Gulbrandsen's qualities.
The Norwegian forward, on loan from RB Salzburg, will make his own name at RBNY. Judging by the speed with which he was introduced to the first team, he will start making that name very quickly.
And he will do it wearing the number of some of his new club's all-time greats. And the number last worn by Anatole Abang, the exiled Cameroonian who is now not only without a team to play for, but also no longer even taking up so much as a shirt number in RBNY's thoughts. Abang seems well and truly lost to the Red Bulls now, but Gulbrandsen is the club's latest gain.
The Red Bulls' latest number 9 will get his next chance to shine on March 19 when the club plays defending MLS Cup Champs, Seattle Sounders.