Once A Metro Weekly News Bulletin: October 5, 2020
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What’s your favorite thing to eat at a stadium? Is it popcorn? Is it soft pretzels? Maybe you enjoy a nice basket of chicken strips and French fries while cheering on your favorite team to victory. Do you know what I choose to consume when I’m at Red Bull Arena? My personal preference is to bask in the glow of the beautiful football performed in ample bounty. My only required sustenance is the brightness emanating from the pitch, delivered in a manner not unlike photosynthesis. But I’m sure you enjoy your pedestrian treats.
Here’s this week’s top story.
It’s not happening, so stop asking. Ralf Rangnick is not taking over Schalke. With the former RB Leipzig manager and Red Bull trendsetter currently unattached, he will be linked with every first division sporting director and coaching role until landing a new one. But it will most certainly not be the position recently held by David Wagner.
“At the moment, I can’t imagine coming to Schalke for a third time and certainly not as a coach who is supposed to end the negative series at short notice,” Rangnick told WAZ. While the 62-year-old still feels a connection to the club he managed in 2004, 2005, and 2011, he warns that any sympathy should be viewed as “anything but an application.” Recent reports are connecting him with the sporting director role at Roma.
A man who earned a reputation as a shrewd man in the land of efficiency cannot be swayed by sentiment. Schalke should know this.
Another former Red Bull has moved into coaching. This time it’s fan favorite Damien Perrinelle who recently took a role in the AS Monaco organization. The French center back is responsible for “supervising all players at Cercle Brugge,” reporting on the affiliate’s progress to Monaco. ASM is attempting to build a bridge between the two clubs, streamlining the development pathway as is the modern ideal.
Succeeding his time with the Red Bulls, Perrinelle returned to France and played with lower league sides Le Touquet and Racing Club de France. After retiring, the 37-year-old was working as a commentator for the After Foot program on the BFM Sport channel. He recently said his “au revoir” to the show and its fans before moving to his new position.
His new boss is none other than former Red Bull Global Technical Director Paul Mitchell, although their MLS tenures never overlapped. Perhaps they were able to bond over their love for the high press or the desire to source and sign young players. After all, Perrinelle once organized showcases “for MLS scouts in France” before making his own move westward across the sea.
The covid-19 pandemic threw a wrench into the plans for many sporting competitions, necessitating the adoption of alternate formats and structures. The Canadian Premier League opted for a month-long tournament termed “The Island Games,” which took place on Prince Edward Island from August 13th through September 19th. One participant was former Red Bulls defender Andrew Jean-Baptiste, who signed with Winnipeg’s Valour FC in January.
The Haitian international appeared in six of the club’s seven matches and scored a goal, but it wasn’t enough to advance to the second stage of the competition. He was considered one of the top players at the Island Games, resulting in Valour receiving “inquiries from other teams.” However, Jean-Baptiste might stay in Canada, having found an intriguing place to call home.
“I’m staring out my window and enjoying a really good view of downtown right now,” the 28-year-old said in a conversation with CanPL.ca. “I really do like Winnipeg. It really grew on me in the short time I was here… the majority of it being in quarantine. This city has a lot to offer and I know I only got to see a small part of it because of everything. If I do come back and make my way back next year I look forward to it.”
While Jean-Baptiste is open to another opportunity in MLS, he has yet to receive a call. The former first round SuperDraft pick and New York native has been abroad since 2015, stamping his passport in Spain, Sweden, and Malaysia. If he does stick around with Valour, then it will be with a “special” group that is “optimistic for next year.”
Reactions abound following J.J. Post’s report on the contract negotiations of New York Red Bulls II midfielder Caden Clark. The story has caused the regular examination of MLS rules, particularly with regards to player territories. Will an American player be forced to leave the country to be able to play for a club of his choosing?
Brian Sciaretta of American Soccer Now views the current rules as “counterproductive” and writes, “Minnesota has done nothing to reap the rewards of having anything to do with Clark.” One member of the FiftyFiveOne podcast vocalized, “Minnesota should take 50k in [General Allocation Money] for work they did not do.” However, one of the hosts on the Minnesota United fan show Pod on You Loons points to the Austrian ownership group’s wealth and imparted, “Sorry, not sorry… Wouldn’t you be mad if they didn’t get something from the Red Bull ownership group?”
All of the possible positions on the spectrum are represented, but the Red Bulls fanbase still waits for a follow-up on the initial report.
Valencia is decidedly not in good shape, as Spanish football expert Sid Lowe termed fans “furious” with the club’s direction. It’s been a sad spiral for the six-time winners of La Liga. Former Red Bull Albert Celades managed the Spanish giants from September of 2019 through June of 2020, being fired with six matches left in the season.
In a recent interview with Radio Marca, he expressed that he enjoyed his time with the club but struggled to sign the required players. “I tried to always do what I thought was convenient for the team and we got what we got without pressure or impositions,” said the 45-year-old. “It was not easy. We wanted to bring in a center back… and it couldn’t be. But I repeat I had no problem, I understood that things were like that.”
Celades seems at peace with his time at the Mestalla. Since retiring in 2010, he’s coached various Spanish national youth teams, assisted Spain in 2018, and was briefly a member of Julen Lopetegui’s staff at Real Madrid. As is wont to happen, the Catalonian will likely get another opportunity somewhere.
Some people take things easy following retirement. Some people are not Markus Holgersson. Not content with owning a brewery, the former Red Bulls defender is working as a lecturer for academy players. He has been hired by Eskilsminne IF of the third tier Division 1 Södra to moderate “six different modules” teaching the youth how to navigate the difficult road to professional soccer.
Holgersson’s lessons will revolve around maintaining a work/life balance as he discusses his own past experiences. Hopefully the series will be recorded and uploaded to the internet so we can all bask in the wisdom gleaned over the course of a 16-year career. At the moment, Eskilsminne is firmly lodged in a relegation spot, so perhaps the senior players would also benefit from inclusion in the courses. Or maybe what they really need is a brief and triumphant return to the field from the 35-year-old Holgersson.
Soccer players love to come together for a good cause. The Colombian regional network Telepacifico hosted the Encuentro de la Esperanza, featuring “sporting idols” from the Valle del Cauca region offering “families a healthy and unique space.” None other than former Red Bull Wilman Conde was present to play Teqball, “a new sport that combines soccer and tennis technique.”
Conde played in New York during the 2012 season and made 17 appearances on the back line. Following that season, the former Colombian youth international never joined another team, seemingly ending his playing days on the banks of the Passaic River. His professional career started in 2000 with Deportes Quindío and featured stops at Deportivo Cali, Real Cartagena, Millonarios, the Chicago Fire, and Atlas.
Feel free to check in, Wilman. I would love to hear from you.
Rumored future Red Bulls manager Gerhard Struber and Barnsley took on Middlesbrough this weekend in the Championship. Prior to the match, opposing manager Neil Warnock shared details on his coronavirus scare, describing the experience as “life and death.” However, the 71-year-old has recovered and was present on the sideline for the match.
On the lighter side, the famously chatty Yorkshireman jokingly threw his hat into the ring for the open Red Bulls position. “Don’t ask me to choose one of them [Barnsley or New York], will you?” opined Warnock in his pre-match press conference. “Because I love New York. If he don’t want to go there, if he wants to put my name in, I do like New York. I think it’s a special place where my wife and I have had great… Four or five days is enough. I don’t know whether I could go work there, but [Struber]’s done well [in Barnsley]. He’s done well there in certain areas according to the press and I think it’s an Austrian-related club in New York, so you know it’s one of those things.”
I’m sure the Red Bulls will keep Warnock’s interest in mind.
The county is called Scotland, but people with other names are allowed to live there too. In acquiescence with this rule, former Red Bulls U-23s captain Markus Fjörtoft secured a move to Greenock Morton of the second division Scottish Championship. The Norwegian-English center back was most recently with Hamilton Academical, making nine appearances in the Scottish Premiership last season.
Fjörtoft, the son of star striker Jan Åge, began his career with Bærum SK before matriculating to Duke University, spending four years in North Carolina. He played with the Red Bulls U-23s in the summer of 2017, making 13 appearances and committing what he terms a “f*** up.” In his first practice, the towering defender accidentally landed a dangerous tackle on star striker Bradley Wright-Phillips, who responded by faking a limp but continued to reassure and check in with the frazzled newcomer.
Following a first place finish in the PDL’s Mid Atlantic Division and success at Duke, Fjörtoft was drafted by the Seattle Sounders in the second round of the 2018 SuperDraft. In a surprising move, he opted to join Southern United of the New Zealand Football Championship. One year later, the Swindon native was in Scotland with Hamilton, pursuing the professional dream. Now 26 years old, he appears ready to play a key role for Greenock’s pursuit of first division football, a level The Ton has not reached since 1988.
Oh, and Fjörtoft hosts a podcast called the BroPod, if you’re into that sort of thing. A recent guest was Dane Murphy, CEO of… Barnsley FC, a club of recent interest to Red Bulls fans. The universe is a strange, interconnected place.
Matt Miazga is on the move, and the location is very familiar to Red Bulls fans. The current member of the Chelsea loan army is joining Anderlecht of the Belgian First Division A. Les Mauves et Blancs currently house former Red Bulls Kemar Lawrence and Amir Murillo, with the latter performing so well that he is generating discussion of a transfer to La Liga or the Premier League.
Miazga never broke into the rotation at Chelsea and went out on loan to Vitesse, Nantes, and Reading. At 25 years old, there’s still time to reach the top of the game, but it likely won’t be at Stamford Bridge, a notoriously difficult challenge for any player regardless of talent and ability. Will Anderlecht become Miazga’s new permanent club or at least lead him on the path to it? Only time will tell.
Here’s a joke that was submitted by Joyce of Kinnelon:
“Miazga proved that a person doesn’t have to be a Member of Parliament to be a backbencher.”
Thank you, Joyce. Your Anglophile wit is only surpassed by your cruelty.
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