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Red Bulls Round-Up: offseason kickoff

We blow the whistle on the beginning of winter with Jesse Marsch and Ali Curtis giving rival interviews, Joe Addo getting a free car, and Dietrich Mateschitz getting paid

SOCCER: JAN 14 2016 MLS SuperDraft Photo by Andy Mead/YCJ/Icon Sportswire/Corbis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

A few days ago, I received a letter from a concerned fan. This frequent reader and international supermodel asked if the Round-Up – her favorite content – would continue during the next few months even though the season ended. Understandably, I was a bit taken aback. Of course, this weekly news post will continue to be published. If anything, it should only be produced during the off-season when the stories get weird and more tangential. I replied to the letter, informing her that not only will the post maintain its regular schedule, but that I would prefer she no longer reads this site due to harboring and sowing such doubt.

Here’s this week’s top story.

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On Wednesday evening, the Columbus Crew announced that “four players tested positive for COVID-19.” The first two positive cases were taken on Sunday, one day after the playoff match against the New York Red Bulls. The subsequent pair of players was uncovered on Tuesday. All four immediately went into self-isolation.

In a follow-up story, Jeff Carlisle of ESPN reported that an additional two Crew players tested positive.

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Whether the conversation is about his adopted tactics or background, everyone wants to talk about Jesse Marsch. The former New York Red Bulls manager is a hot coaching commodity and the first American to win a European top division title. In advance of Salzburg’s Champions League match against Bayern Munich, he spoke with Sky Sports about his background, lessons he learned from a former boss, and future goals.

It’s the usual Marsch profile with some interesting details and insight. The Princeton man felt true wanderlust from a young age, desiring to leave his town of Norman Rockwell, Wisconsin and “experience different things.” The 47-year-old strongly advocates for listening to his group of players and believes that team leadership must be promoted and supported from within, something practiced during his time in New York.

As for former MetroStars manager Bob Bradley, he hated watching the short yet disastrous tenure at Swansea. “I watched Bob Bradley and I saw him suffer,” said Marsch. “I also know what a good man he is and what a good coach he is. Watching what happened to him was so painful for me, but I thought about it a lot… I could see the suffering that he went through and if I was going to come over here to Europe at some point, I was going to have to learn from what had happened to him.”

It remains to be seen whether Marsch has actually learned from the downfall of his former boss. While he has been successful in Europe, leading what is by far the strongest team in the Austrian Bundesliga hardly matches the grind of the Premier League. The true trial by fire will be in the rapidly approaching future, whether it occurs in Germany or England.

Oh, and Salzburg fell to Bayern Munich, 3-1, which came on the heels of the season’s first Bundesliga defeat. Cheer up, Jesse. It’s only a two-game losing streak. Every disappointment and ailment can be cured with a bacon cheesesteak from Hoagie Haven.

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Is the Red Bulls’ future number one goalkeeper currently with the reserve team? After not playing for seven months due to the global pandemic, Luca Lewis moved over from the Torino youth setup and jumped right into the starting lineup for the USL side. As he tells One Goal, a conversation with Kevin Thelwell changed the trajectory of his career.

The Red Bulls sporting director sold the young goalkeeper on immediate playing time. “When I spoke to Kevin, he explained their plan for me,” said Lewis. “I knew this was the best move for me… Finally getting to make my professional debut was interesting, but it was only three games.”

Goalkeeping can be a long, confusing road to the top, as players have to sometimes wait an entire decade before getting the chance to be the number one. At only 19, the New York native is still a child by the position’s standards, with plenty of time to develop. However, he is hoping to qualify for next season’s USL playoffs and “keep working with the first team.”

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No need to search the couch cushions to pay for tonight’s takeout dinner because Red Bull’s owners just got a tad bit richer. Dietrich Mateschitz was handed a $407 million dividend payout by the company he founded and currently manages. The former pharmaceutical marketing expert discovered the drink in 1987 after traveling to Thailand.

Now, how much of that money will end up in New York? Probably not much, as it’s important to remember that while Mateschitz – one of the world’s richest people – part-owns Red Bull GmbH, it’s the private Austrian company that owns the soccer club. Although he did strongly advocate for the payment of Gerhard Struber’s $2.3 million release fee from Barnsley, so perhaps it all evens out.

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Former MetroStars defender Joe Addo was recently in the news discussing his failed move to Italy. The Ghanaian international was signed by recently promoted Serie B club Castel di Sangro but failed to leave the dressing room and training grounds because the manager “never liked [him].” However, he shared with the Ladies Time Show that the club did provide him with a car.

Addo played for the MetroStars in 2002 and 2003, joining the club from the Tampa Bay Mutiny. He made 25 appearances across all competitions. Following his time in MLS, the George Mason Patriot briefly joined Kitchee of Hong Kong before retiring. His post-playing career has featured the usual array of sporting roles, including punditry and a stint as the Corporate Affairs Manager at Hearts of Oak.

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While many former Red Bulls coaches enter the professional coaching and front office world, others opt for the wild west of youth coaching and training programs. Some have even started their own clubs, which have reached various levels of success. That list includes Pedro Álvarez, Sal Caccavale, Jhonny Arteaga, and Sammy Adjei.

Álvarez played for the MetroStars in 2001, making 22 appearances before returning to Colombia for one final season. After retiring, the midfielder formed the Orlando Stars Soccer Academy. The club is still in existence and has been competing in the EDP Florida Competitive League. He brings a wealth of experience to the job and attempts to “guide [players] to overcome difficult emotions and still teach them to have all the technique and knowledge.”

Caccavale was drafted by the Red Bulls in 2007 after a four-year career at American University. After a short time in MLS, he moved onto coaching, working at various youth setups. The New York native created his own club, Achilles FC, which was recently included in the newly formed MLS elite youth development platform. The 35-year-old also coaches at D.C.’s St. John’s College High School and led the highly rated Cadets program to the 2018 D.C. State Athletic Association championship.

Arteaga was briefly a member of the Red Bulls during the end of the Hans Backe years, mostly playing as a reserve and cup player. In possession of a USSF ‘B’ license, he now owns and operates the JA Elite Soccer Academy based in Stamford Connecticut. The program seeks to provide “an elite soccer education in an enjoyable, safe and challenging environment to succeed on the field.”

Former Academy and U-23s attacker Adjei has made big strides into the coaching world despite only recently retiring from his playing career in 2019. The Ghanaian-American manages the Bloomfield College women’s soccer team and is on the staff of the New Jersey Olympic Development Program. He was recently named to the United Soccer Coaches’ “30 under 30” list, which is almost as prestigious as the goal he scored in the Red Bulls 2014 NPSL National Championship victory. In addition to all of those jobs, the 27-year-old also owns an “elite soccer training company” by the name of Soccer Virtuoso and is pursuing his MBA at Rider University.

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Former sporting director Ali Curtis spoke at the inaugural The Future of U.S. Soccer conference hosted by the University of Michigan’s Collegiate Soccer Society. Various topics were discussed, such as the necessity of crafting an identity and the future of the American player. The current Toronto general manager believes clubs need to think globally and “find innovative ways to monetize the sport,” which will have a trick-down effect in North America.

Curtis worked with the Red Bulls from December of 2014 through February of 2017, departing the club after rumors of a rift with then-manager Jesse “High Pressy” Marsch. Toronto FC hired him in January of 2019. The 2017 MLS Cup and Supporters’ Shield winner is a sprawling organization, with a well-regarded academy structure that undoubtedly benefits from his experience and acumen.

I’m sure you have a hilarious joke about 300-page plans, which I recommend you save for the soonest available open mic.

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The Brazilian cousins are flying high with not a care in the world. Red Bull Bragantino is enjoying a three-match unbeaten streak, tallying wins against Botafogo and Bahia in recent weeks. This run of form has dragged the club out of the relegation zone and into 14th place, within striking distance of qualifying for the Copa Sudamericana.

There’s still almost half of a season left to play, but the situation is no longer as gloomy or impossible as once perceived. After stumbling out the gate in the Campeonato Brasileiro Série A and firing its manager, Bragantino is enjoying the upswing. Current majordomo Maurcio Barbieri credits his squad for growing in resolve and confidence.

“We are making better choices close to the opponent’s goal,” he told Globo Esporte. “In general, the team has evolved in all aspects. I would not name any specific point, but there are still issues to evolve [and] a lot of the [season] ahead and we need to grow.”

Grow tall and strong, Bragantino. Bear fruit that may eventually arrive in New York.

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Free agent Chris Armas appeared on the “all-new virtual speaker series,” Adelphi Reflections. The recent Red Bulls manager starred for the university’s soccer team from 1990 through 1993 before embarking on a prolific professional career with the Long Island Rough Riders, Los Angeles Galaxy, and Chicago Fire. The 48-year-old is a member of the school’s athletic hall of fame.

Armas deeply loves Adelphi, having experienced great success at the institution of higher learning. The connections go deep, as he met his wife there and his son currently competes for the men’s soccer team. The former U.S. international almost “turned down a job with the New York Red Bulls to stay” at the university based in Long Island. He served as the school’s women’s soccer coach from July of 2011 through March of 2015.

Former Red Bulls academy manager Bob Montgomery was praised for his leadership as the head coach at Adelphi. The discussion also touched on the required mindset to “make it” and potential methods of player growth during the coronavirus pandemic. As you’re probably wondering, Armas’ tenure with the Red Bulls was not mentioned and will likely continue to pass without comment for a very long time.

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Another former Red Bulls has secured promotion. Jan Halvor Halvorsen and Bryne FK finished atop Group 2 of the third-tier Norwegian 2. divisijon with 44 points in 19 matches. Despite only recently clinching, the club is already hard at work with scrimmages.

Perhaps the Red Bulls should host a four-team tournament featuring clubs managed by former players and coaches like Bryne, FC Haka (Teemu Tainio), and FC Motown (Šaćir Hot).

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FC Dallas reached the Western Conference Finals due to the strong performance of a former Red Bull. The goalkeeper for the Hoops is none other than Jimmy Maurer, who was very briefly a member of the 2011 Hans Backe squad. The Georgia native was drafted with the fourth pick in the 2011 MLS Supplemental Draft but not signed. He did join the team for a single match, accepting an emergency contract due to an injury crisis.

Following his time with New York, he played with the Atlanta Silverbacks, Universidad de Concepción, and the New York Cosmos before eventually finding his way to FC Dallas. In 2020, Maurer seized the reins at goalkeeper following the suspension of starter Jesse Gonzalez, making 17 appearances and posting seven shutouts. The 32-year-old made the decisive penalty save in the first round of the playoffs against Portland, finding the mental fortitude to push his team to the next round after failing to stop the previous seven attempts.

Should the Red Bulls have held onto their goalkeeper all these years, not truly understanding the potential quality they unearthed? Don’t be silly. What Maurer’s success does speak to is the random nature of the game and the determination required for success, even if fruition takes a decade of wandering.

Here’s a joke that was submitted by Iris of Lodi.

It’s never too late, unless you’re dead. Then it’s probably too late.

Thank you, Iris. Your witty barbs could spur even the most despondent of horses.

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