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Red Bulls Round-Up: November 16, 2020

Caden Clark adjusts to pro life, a new Red Bull outpost in India, Joe Fala pops up with FC Motown, and more in this week’s links...

Toronto FC v New York Red Bulls
Caden Clark (above) discussed who his locker room buddies are in a podcast interview
Photo by Ira L. Black - Corbis/Getty Images

Welcome to the Red Bulls Round-Up presented by Once a Metro.

Blogging about the Red Bulls is in my blood. My grandfather was a Red Bulls blogger, my father was a Red Bulls blogger, and now I am a Red Bulls blogger. I don’t think it would be possible to do something else with my life. I was raised to do this. It is my only skill, both trapping me in a hamster wheel existence and providing the Calvinistic salvation that can only be provided by hard work and routine.

Here’s this week’s top story.

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Forbes México released its list of the Western Hemisphere’s “50 Most Valuable Teams.” The methodology includes “value of the stadium, price of the current squad, and value of the brand.” Due to facilities and marketing, MLS clubs heavily feature in the rankings.

With a figure of 56.3 million dollars, the New York Red Bulls are rated as the 31st most valuable team in the Americas, sandwiched between Pachuca of Mexico and Argentine club Lanús. This sort of study is largely a meaningless exercise, designed to quantify the unknown for the purpose of starting a conversation. In the event of a sale, would Real Salt Lake and Columbus Crew SC garner a higher price tag than the three-time Supporters’ Shield champions in one of the world’s biggest markets? Probably not, but perhaps Forbes México is well aware that the club no longer owns the stadium and might never again be in full possession of Red Bull Arena.

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It’s the middle of yet another international window as Cristian Cásseres Jr. continues to raise his profile with Venezuela. Despite only recently making his debut for the senior national team, the Red Bulls midfielder is dreaming of World Cup glory. The club’s 2019 Defensive Player of the Year stresses that he has “worked hard” in MLS to earn his call-up.

“We want to bring joy to the country, that’s why we are going to go out and eat the field,” Cásseres said during a press conference. “I tell the Venezuelans to continue supporting us, since we want to bring joy to the country… right now I see a united and compact group.”

Venezuela is looking to qualify for its first World Cup, a notoriously difficult proposition in CONMEBOL. Further compounding the issue, La Vinotinto lost to Brazil, 1-0. Winless in three matches, the next fixture on the immediate horizon is Tuesday, November 17th against Chile.

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Red Bull has entered into a new footballing venture, but it is a partnership and not ownership. RB Leipzig has forged a connection with Indian Super League club FC Goa, providing financial support and general guidance. The deal between the German Bulls and the Indian Gaurs (a type of bison) is scheduled to last through June 30th, 2023.

The first thing the two clubs will share is virtual discussions on best practices for team building and training. Additionally, Goa will receive eventual on-site visits and youth players will experience training at the facilities in Germany. Leipzig has the opportunity to make its first soccer push into Asia as the club attempts to build a global athletic brand befitting its on-field success, which would ideally “benefit the merchandising business.”

“We are very much looking forward to the partnership with FC Goa, because this club is a perfect fit for us with its young, modern, and innovative approach,” said Leipzig CEO Oliver Mintzlaff. “We want to break new ground with RB Leipzig and take our first steps internationally. Our cooperation with FC Goa is the first step of a wider internationalization strategy.”

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Rookie Caden Clark appeared on the Class with Grass podcast to discuss the signing process and the day-to-day life of professional soccer. As expected, there was a change in style from USL to MLS. The second division is more frantic, while he has to be more considered and deliberate when pushing the tempo with the senior team.

Now a full professional in the top division, the game must be treated as a job. “You don’t have a choice,” Clark told the Class with Grass hosts. “It’s your job now. People pay money to watch you play. You have to hold yourself to a standard. There’s no going back to your kid days.”

Off the field, the 17-year-old hangs out with Dru Yearwood. He cites Sean Davis, Ryan Meara, and Tim Parker as helping with his adjustment process. Due to the generous veteran core and many other reasons, it appears Clark is at the perfect club for his development.

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It’s been an underwhelming few years at FC Schalke 04, with the club struggling in the lower half of the table. Who is the person in charge of attempting to resuscitate the seven-time German champions? It’s none other than former New York team coordinator Jochen Schneider, who was most recently employed as Leipzig’s head of sport and internalization. The 50-year-old serves as Schalke’s director of sport, attempting to lead “the historic working class club” back to its former glory.

Described as “the shadow man of the successes,” Schneider joined the Red Bull organization in September of 2015, responsible for coordinating the various clubs under the umbrella. The Ralf Rangnick confidant was tasked with “better linking different locations together to continue the sustained way consistently” which sounds like a fascinating job that was ultimately abandoned for the more prestigious head of sport role at Leipzig. As for what was possibly his most direct involvement in New York, he served as a contact for current interim Bradley Carnell, helping his former Stuttgart player to secure a role in the organization.

Best of luck to Mr. Schneider in his time with Schalke, and somebody please write in to let Once a Metro know what it is he actually did at New York.

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In a confusing season marked by turmoil on and off the field, it’s fair to question what constitutes “success” for the 2020 New York Red Bulls and how the club should move forward. Writer J Hutcherson of US Soccer Players endeavors to answer in his column. Not only is there an opportunity for silverware, but players and coaches are under the microscope of a relatively new manager and sporting director.

The glories and failures of elapsed seasons fade away into the ether with enough passed time. The current one will not be different, perhaps reduced in importance even sooner than usual. However, Hutcherson cautions, “The Red Bulls may find themselves with plenty of reasons to consider this season more success than failure. That shouldn’t keep them from finding a better way forward.”

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The New York Red Bulls have rostered a single Polish player in team history, and he recently turned the big 5-0. Prolific striker Andrzej Juskowiak briefly played with the MetroStars for a single season in 2003, finding the net once in eight appearances, before returning to Europe and continuing his goal scoring ways. Despite his exceedingly short time in MLS, he appeared in one of the club’s three cup finals, playing 69 minutes in the 1-0 Open Cup loss to the Chicago Fire.

The former Polish international is best known for his starring roles at Sporting CP, Borussia Mönchengladbach, and VfL Wolfsburg, as well as leading Poland to the silver medal at the 1992 Summer Olympics. Juskowiak now thrives on a steady post-career diet of television commentary on Canal+, scouting for Lech Poznań, and owning lower league club TPS Winogrady. As with many players from that era, the MetroStars tenure was a brief and largely unsuccessful footnote, bookended by prior success and a fruitful retirement. We’ll always have his goal against the Revolution, on what was probably a balmy October 18th that will never be forgotten because it was never remembered in the first place.

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Here’s a story that was submitted to the Round-Up by Little Austin of Invader’s Bay.

FC Motown Celtics notched a 5-0 win over Ukrainian Sitch in the Garden State Soccer League. The first goal was from Joe Fala, who redirected a corner into the back of the net. The 6’7” striker-defender was most recently with New York Red Bulls II and presumably is a free agent, although the club has not published a roster update. He was previously a member of the Celtics’ NPSL side in 2019 and has already scored twice for his new club of the past month.

Fala spent four years at Division III school Ramapo College, racking up 47 goals in 75 appearances. He was signed in March after impressing John Wolyniec at a combine. In the recently completed 2020 season, the Cape May Court House native played in 14 games, mainly as a center back.

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Former Red Bulls manager Juan Carlos Osorio has had a difficult month. First he was let go from Atlético Nacional, then he reportedly tested positive for coronavirus. According to journalist Esteban Jaramillo, the 59-year-old “is already isolated and under medication and observation.”

Osorio managed the Red Bulls from December of 2007 through August 2009. He led the club to its only MLS Cup final appearance. The Colombian was recently connected to the vacant LA Galaxy position, but there has been no recent movement on that front.

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In what resembles a corporate cold war, Red Bull GmbH and City Football Group engage in a worldwide competition for football supremacy. While the Austrian project has been ongoing since 2005, the London-based holding company wasn’t founded until 2014. Since then, the two entities have largely stayed away from each other, only recently coming into contact when both reportedly sought to take over Russian Premier League club FC Ufa.

As observed by Hector Gasulla Bessa for Diari de Barcelona, the only field of battle on which these two titans of modern football go head-to-head is in Major League Soccer within the confines of the New York metropolitan area. According to journalist Pablo Gayán, the Red Bulls are considered “one of the giants” and New York City FC “is the little brother.” The former has placed a priority on its Ralfball philosophy, while the latter is behind the eight ball as it switches to a team building strategy less focused on star players.

Many claim to not care about such global questions, preferring to focus on clubs at the local level. However, both the Red Bulls and New York City FC have been greatly influenced by their ownership groups, waxing and waning with board room desires. Although perhaps in recent times their positions have switched. One former fiefdom has been brought more closely into the fold, while a home for star players and development loans now largely operates on its own. Figure out which is which.

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If Red Bull is known for anything other than the high press, it’s the organization’s impressive and thorough scouting department. According to Tutto Mercato, the player database contains 400,000 players, allowing for less consternation when searching for someone who fits the current desired needs. Whether New York has fully benefited from this breadth of knowledge is up for debate, although surely a talent or two has been vetted and recommended to the MLS club. With sporting director Kevin Thelwell and head of scouting Paul Fernie building out the domestic staff and database, it appears that there will be less of a need to rely on ownership for a referral.

Having several sister clubs also reduces the constant need for scouting, provided sharing is on the menu. The article mentions the transfer status of one Cristian Cásseres, a player whose youth and abilities might make him appealing for a future synergy move. Depending on who you ask, the unspoken age limit at Leipzig and Salzburg is anywhere from 22 through 25, although many would argue the Venezuelan midfielder isn’t performing quite at the level for it to matter.

It’s hard to tell what excitement the future holds. Based on my experience, the answer is nothing.

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Former Red Bulls trialist Rajay Wright was named United Premier Soccer League’s National Player of the Week for Week 22. The Jamaican youth international competes for Seas Jamaica United FC in the fifth-division conglomerate’s Georgia Division 1 league. He scored five goals and contributed two assists in an 8-1 win over Forest Rovers FC.

Wright was on trial with the Red Bulls in May of last season after being scouted during the 2019 CONCACAF U-17 Championship. While the then-17-year-old never signed with New York, it appears he’s not giving up on his professional soccer dreams. With astonishing production at such a young age, some club is going to be calling his agent.

Let’s hope he has better luck than former trialist Christiano François, who is apparently the Grim Reaper for American lower league clubs.

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A certain someone reportedly has yet to arrive in the city of Portimão, Portugal, and local media is starting to take notice of his absence. After his signing attracted a relative amount of fanfare, Anatole Abang has not appeared for the club that desperately needs a boost. As observed by local writer Pedro Miguel Custódio, “we will have a faster vaccine for covid-19 than we will see Abang wearing the Portimonense jersey.”

The season is crawling, slithering along the edge of a straight razor, but hopes of surviving in the top flight are slowly dimming. Portimonense finds itself at the bottom of the Primeira Liga table, sporting a 1-1-5 record. Perhaps the arrival of a Cameroonian goal scorer would turn the club’s fortunes around, although any travelling and pandemic-related quarantine should have long been completed by now.

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A one-time Red Bulls employee landed himself in some hot water. The former president of business operations and current Philadelphia 76ers team president Chris Heck gave an interview with Uni Watch, discussing the team’s new Boathouse Row-themed alternate jersey. He described an aversion to the city’s nickname of “Philly” because “it’s lazy and undersells the city” in a manner similar to the descriptive term “blue-collar,” instead preferring the more encompassing title of “New Philadelphia” to celebrate “the arts, culture, education, and diversity.”

Some took issue with these comments, to which Heck responded with an apology on Twitter. The former Red Bulls executive was with the club from June of 2011 through August of 2012. His tenure… lasted from June of 2011 through August of 2012.

Here’s a joke that was submitted by Gladys of Millburn:

This isn’t the first time Chris Heck might have misunderstood the desires of a fan base.

Thank you, Gladys. While others choose to move on with their lives, your willingness to keep the fires of old grudges burning is a testament to the determination of the Greatest Generation.

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Do you have a story you’d like to submit to the Weekly News Bulletin? Email us at bencorkOAM@gmail.com or send a DM to @Once_A_Metro on Twitter.