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Once A Metro Weekly News Bulletin: August 17, 2020

More turns in the Kemar Lawrence situation, Red Bulls outbid by Premier League for Lopes, Douglas Martinez explains why he left New York, and more in this week’s bulletin

Toronto FC v New York Red Bulls
Former Red Bull Gabriel Cichero is ready to devote his life to promoting your wellness
Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images for New York Red Bulls

Welcome to the Weekly New Bulletin presented by Once a Metro. Find out all the New York Red Bulls news to impress your friends at the backyard barbecue. Dazzle the cocktail parties with an update on a fan favorite. Charm your significant other’s family with an obscure bit of knowledge. Stimulate scintillating conversations on the dating apps with a reminder about coaches of yesteryear.

Here’s this week’s top story.

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Kemar Lawrence still has not returned to Anderlecht. The former Red Bulls left back remains in Jamaica following the death of his brother. According to Anderlecht Online he posted a message on Instagram in remembrance of the 15th anniversary of his father’s death.

The club assured the media that it is standing by the player. “We will say nothing about Lawrence’s private situation, out of respect,” said Anderlecht CEO Karel Van Eetvelt. “He will not play for a while and must come to terms with himself. Then we will see how it goes.”

Despite Lawrence’s absence, Anderlecht has enjoyed a decent start to the season. In a recent 2-2 draw with K.V. Mechelen, featuring a blown two-goal lead, fellow former Red Bull Michael Amir Murillo put in a solid performance. He had an assist in the 64th minute and forced an own goal in the 75th minute.

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According to the Football Insider 247, former Red Bulls transfer target Leonardo da Silva Lopes is “attracting interest from Premier League newcomers West Bromwich Albion.” He’s also being pursued by fellow recently-promoted club Leeds United. The 21-year-old midfielder made 44 appearances across all competitions for Hull City last season. The Tigers were relegated from the Championship, which should bring a flood of interest in the Portuguese youth international.

In January, the Red Bulls reportedly made two transfer offers for Lopes. The second was claimed to be $2.3 million. Both were rejected as Hull was “said to be uninterested in selling their prize prospect.”

Despite the Red Bulls’ failure in capturing his signature, the early identification and pursuit of a player on the way to the Premier League is a positive sign for the club. Outside of on-field performance, the best indication of potential and talent is the quality of one’s pursuers. The market determines value, and the past year of transfer rumors indicates the Red Bulls are adept speculators. Unfortunately, the investor who picked the right stock but never made the purchase finds himself in the same position as the person who doesn’t even know there is a stock market.

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Former New York Red Bulls II attacker Douglas Martinez shed some light on his departure from the club. The Honduran international claims that an attempted return after his loan became complicated. “The truth is that 2018 was quite hard,” Martinez told Radio House. “[Liga Nacional club] Vida did not let me return to Red Bull due to certain negotiations, since they were asking for more money than they had agreed to in the first transfer, and the team there did not accept.”

Following the end of his contract with Vida, Martinez returned to the United States, joining Real Monarchs in January of 2019. He found the back of the net 17 times in 40 USL appearances and was promoted to Real Salt Lake. The 23-year-old recently scored his first MLS goal, a nifty effort in the MLS is Back Tournament against San Jose Earthquakes.

In the distant past, the Red Bulls had a reputation of letting go of talent too quickly, but, in this specific case, it appears the club may be blameless.

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For all that has been said about the upcoming 2022 Qatar World Cup, the tournament has at least one fervent supporter: former MetroStars manager Bora Milutinović. As part of a roundtable discussion to commemorate “the anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Qatar and Mexico,” the 75-year-old praised the host nation.

“For me it is a dream to be working with Qatar,” said Milutinović. “Qatari people are extremely intelligent and they will carry out this incredible task. It will be great for the people of the Middle East, Africa, Asia, to have a World Cup so close and where they can also see up to two games in one day. I hope that Mexico participates to enjoy the wonderful country that is Qatar.”

Milutinović managed the MetroStars from September 1998 through October 1999, leading the club to its worst (or second-worst) season with a 7-25 record. The Serbian has had an extraordinary globetrotting coaching career, leading various Mexican clubs as well as the national teams of Mexico, Costa Rica, Nigeria, China, Honduras, Iraq, Jamaica, and most famously the USA at the 1994 World Cup.

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A former New York Red Bulls academy star appears to be in the middle of a snafu. After an unsuccessful loan to Slovakian club Pohronie, Ismar Tandir is reportedly outside of the picture with his parent club. According to the International Federation of Professional Footballers organization, “Ismar Tandir has been ordered by Sigma Olomouc to train alone for no apparent reason other than to make him terminate his contract early.” FIFPRO is calling for the Czech club to allow its player to return to training.

Tandir played with the Red Bulls Academy from 2010-2013 before moving to the French lower leagues with Sochaux B. Despite being a mere 24-years-old, he’s already stamped his passport with Iceland, France, Spain, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia. This is not the first instance FIFPRO has been involved with one of his clubs. In 2017, he told Once a Metro that his transfer at the time was partly “because of the problems” potentially involving contract and players’ rights issues.

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Red Bull Arena is not only rumored to be housing several MLS teams but also serving as a venue for events. The cathedral of American Soccer hosted New Jersey Youth Soccer’s Annual General Meeting at which members were elected to the organization’s Board of Directors. According to Soccer Wire, “The seating bowl at Red Bull Arena provided the setting for the event so that attendees could practice social distancing, while receiving updates and hearing from the candidates.” The club was praised by NJ Youth Soccer’s Executive Director for being a “valuable partner” with the arena staff being “the best in class.”

However, Hudson County Community College’s 44th Annual Commencement was moved from Red Bull Arena because it was “no longer possible.” The upcoming ceremony for Spring 2020 and December 2020 graduates will be held at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. The ceremony for Spring 2021 graduates will still be hosted at Red Bull Arena.

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Former New York Red Bulls II attacker Junior Flemmings was named USL Championship Player of the Week. Now plying his trade for Phoenix Rising, he scored three goals in a 5-2 win over New Mexico United. The 24-year-old Jamaican international won Goal of the Week for the preceding Week 6 with a slaloming solo effort.

Flemmings joined the Red Bulls’ USL side in 2016 from Red Stripe Premier League club Tivoli Gardens. In two seasons, he scored 16 goals in 52 appearances and was a part of the 2016 squad that claimed the Regular Season Championship and USL Cup. The Kingston native spent 2018 with the Tampa Bay Rowdies before moving to Arizona in 2019 where he has thrived to the tune of 23 goals in 37 appearances.

He may be playing in a dry climate, but opposing defenses are unable to get rid of Flem.

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Former Red Bulls defender Gabriel Cichero announced his retirement in an Instagram post. The 36-year-old began his professional career in 2003 and played in Uruguay, Italy, Bulgaria, Venezuela, Argentina, France, Switzerland, India, and Spain. Despite a somewhat unimpressive loan stint with New York in 2008, Cichero carved out a solid professional career and earned 70 caps with the Venezuela national team.

His post-career plan is a fitness and wellness brand based in Spain called Creating Winners. The company – which makes “people understand that everything is possible” – offers motivational speaking, a personalized Pilates plan, and nutritional advice. He also hosts a podcast which is available through iTunes.

Best of luck on your future endeavors, Gabriel!

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Former Red Bulls-connected player Kandas Condé signed with Santoba FC of the Guinée Championnat National. The club is based in Conakry, the capital of and most populous city in the African nation of Guinea.

“We know the strength and power of the Guinean championship and especially the players it produces,” Condé said after signing. “Santoba is a club that will allow me to develop myself as a player. My goal with the club is not financial.”

According to Condé, he was given offers to play with teams in the Canadian lower leagues after studying at Collège Ahuntsic in Montreal. He delved into his Red Bull connection in an interview with Firawa Sport. “After my studies, I went to the USA where I signed up with the New York Red Bull,” the then 22-year-old right back said in March. “I had a very good season at first. But when there was a change of coach, I was not able to continue the adventure with this team. The new coach changed everything upon his arrival.”

Good luck in Guinea, Kandas! Beat Horoya AC in the Conakry derby!

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Last week, the Weekly News Bulletin incorrectly reported that Rafa Márquez would be managing fourth-tier Spanish side RSD Alcalá. To correct the record, the Mexico national team legend and former Red Bulls defender will be in charge of the club’s academy Cadet A side.

Once A Metro expresses sincere regret for this error, an emotion with which Rafa is incredibly familiar.

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Patrick Seagrist appeared on the Marquette at Home show. The Red Bulls left back played for the Golden Eagles from 2016 through 2019, twice being named to the All-BIG EAST First Team. He talked about his time at the MLS is Back Tournament, terming the experience unique but positive. “[The bubble] wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be,” Seagrist told host Dan Avington. “We had access to three pools. We got tested every day. We were fed appropriately. We were just trying to make it as normal and as close to what we would be doing here in Jersey.”

Here’s a joke that was submitted to the Weekly News by Eleanor of Sea Girt:

“Boy, did they sure make it as normal and close to what they would be doing in Jersey by failing in a cup competition.”

Thank you, Eleanor. You’re very funny.

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.