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Mathias Jørgensen leaves Red Bulls to join AGF Aarhus on loan

Danish forward had struggled to make an impression at first team level since joining last year from Odense

MLS: Minnesota United FC at New York Red Bulls Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

After a frustrating two seasons in New York, Danish striker Mathias Jørgensen has joined AGF Aarhus on a temporary loan contract. The 20-year-old announced the return to his homeland in a club-produced video Tuesday morning.

Perhaps best known to American fans as the club where U.S. international Benny Feilhaber revived his career in the late 00s, Aarhus has long been considered a sleeping giant of Danish football in the country’s second-biggest city and finished third in the most recent season. Reports indicated the loan of Jørgensen, which will begin after the Danish league’s winter break, includes a purchase option upon conclusion.

Touted as a speedy target forward, Jørgensen arrived from Odense BK in early 2019 for a roughly $2.5 million fee as the only major fruit of an otherwise barren debut transfer window for Chris Armas and Denis Hamlett. At the time Hamlett made the now somewhat infamous statement that Jørgensen was expected to “make an impact from the get go” with the Red Bulls.

After sporadic early appearances that year in which the lanky teenage striker appeared physically outmatched at MLS level, Jørgensen found more of a groove with the reserve side in USL. With 11 goals in 21 appearances in the second division, the Danish youth international looked set to take grasp of a regular MLS role especially following the exit of Bradley Wright-Phillips.

However the covid-19 pandemic dissolved the stretch of crowded early season schedule in which Jørgensen would likely have earned his first team opportunities. Even worse as quarantine protocols took effect the later part of the year, the Danish youth international was prevented from continuing his development with reserve play as while languishing on the MLS team’s bench behind Brian White and Tom Barlow. Jørgensen ended with only 9 appearances with 2 starts in the shortened 2020 MLS season, to round up to a total of 13 scoreless appearances in his career with New York.

In the end Jørgensen, much like other young players such as Cristian Casseres, was a victim of the disorganization the New York operation fell into following the departure of Jesse Marsch midway through the 2018 regular season championship campaign. Both the precarious state of the team’s table position and Armas’ tendency towards convention left less space for trial-and-error with younger players. By the time new technical leadership had arrived in the form of head of sport Kevin Thelwell and head coach Gerhard Struber, the Dane (who possesses one of the club’s higher-end salaries at $275k/year) was already shot for confidence and ill-equipped to be relied on as the team seeks to return to the league’s elite. While still with plenty of time to build a career at only 20 years old, it is unlikely that will happen for Mathias Jørgensen in New York.