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Once A Metro Weekly News Update: August 3, 2020

King Ralf steps down from the throne, Kofi-Kyereh snatched up by St Pauli, and are RBNY’s English lower league transfer rumors about to collide with each other?

Bundesliga Resumes Season After Nationwide Lockdown Due To The Ongoing Coronavirus Crisis
Longtime Red Bull soccer executive Ralf Rangnick (above) has officially driven off into the sunset
Photo by Maja Hitij/Getty Images

Welcome to the Weekly News Update presented by Once a Metro. The weather is hot, the stories are hotter. Take a load off, put your feet up, and let the waves of Red Bulls news wash over you.

Let’s head into this week’s top story.

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The king has left the castle. Ralf Rangnick is departing Red Bull after eight years. According to Bild, his “contract was canceled” as the 62-year-old is “looking for a new challenge.” He recently had a deal to take over AC Milan reportedly fall apart at the last minute.

“Now is the right time to end my job at Red Bull,” Rangnick said in a statement. “I would like to thank all employees and especially Dietrich Mateschitz for their support and trust. He gave me the opportunity to build something unique here over the years. Red Bull Soccer stands for a highly successful organization that is very well positioned around the world. It was a great honor to have made a contribution to this and it makes me proud. I wish Red Bull all the best for the future.”

Largely an unknown figure in MLS, Rangnick wielded a large influence at the club and became a key mentor and champion of former New York manager Jesse Marsch, who he hired as his assistant at RB Leipzig two years ago. Now he leaves, likely to lead another club (perhaps in England) or to eat cats and be the subject of government experiments. Oh, I’m sorry. The latter would be Alf, not Ralf.

***

FC St. Pauli announced the signing of New York transfer target Daniel-Kofi Kyereh to a three-year deal. The 24-year-old attacker was a free agent following the expiry of his deal with Wehen Weisbaden. He had six goals and seven assists last season in the 2. Bundesliga. The German-Ghanaian spent time on the books at VfL Wolfsburg, Eintracht Braunschweig, and TSV Havelse.

As reported by Bild on July 20th, the Red Bulls attempted to hijack the transfer after Holstein Kiel dropped out of the race. Current RBNY head scout Paul Fernie was the previously in the same role at Wehen Weisbaden and was a key proponent of his signing in 2018. It was written that Kyereh was “not under pressure” to sign, but he couldn’t enter into the United States for negotiations or to visit the club.

Thus ends the Red Bulls’ pursuit of another player. It’s clear the club is attempting to upgrade its attacking options, which is an understandable desire after an anemic one-goal performance at the MLS is Back Tournament.

***

The intersection of two RBNY transfer rumors is a beautiful thing. There are reports that Brentford is making a play for past and possibly present target Ivan Toney. How are The Bees funding their move for the Peterborough striker?

Perhaps they’re using some of the Red Bulls’ money from the reported Dru Yearwood transfer. While $2 million may not cover the presumed high fee, it certainly may offset it a bit. Club A pays a transfer fee to Club B which helps Club B acquire a player from Club C which is the player that Club A wanted this whole time.

I believe that’s similar to the plot of The Taming of the Shrew. I have never read it, but that’s what I assume the plot is.

***

Here’s a story that was submitted to the Weekly News Update by a young reader, Little Austin of Birmingham. Former Red Bull Victor Palsson was named the second best defensive midfielder in the 2. Bundesliga by Kicker. The 29-year-old is artistically described as possessing an “aggressive, rousing style of playing pure as hard rock – but garnished with technically complicated guitar riffs.” After joining the Red Bulls in 2012, fans were perhaps more subjected to his physical tackling than passing ability, but he developed into a solid professional with stops at Helsingborgs, Esbjerg, and FC Zürich.

He recently discussed his time with MLS and Thierry Henry in a podcast interview (via Iceland Monitor). “I answered him once [in an argument] and he made me feel it for two weeks afterwards,” began Palsson. “Whenever I had the ball, he tried to get me on my knees, he killed me. For those two weeks, I was his victim. He took notice of me, what clothes I wore, what I did in training and more. He ruined me.” However, the two became fast friends, with the football legend inviting him to watch a friendly between Iceland and Finland and teaching lessons about professionalism.

The Icelandic international joined Darmstadt 98 in January of 2019, signing a long-term deal. Last season, he led Die Lillen to a fifth place finish, narrowly missing out on the promotion playoffs. However, he’s likely on his way out of the club, having been the subject of transfer overtures.

Is it possible that Palsson will be making a triumphant return to the New York Red Bulls? Nope!

***

A former New York Red Bulls U-23s defender might have landed in some hot water… or perhaps hot cappuccino. Jean-Claude Billong was not included in the match day roster by Salernitana for key matches as the Serie B club pushes for a promotion playoff spot. As explained by manager Gian Piero Ventura, “He is not present among the players called up for disciplinary reasons.”

According to writer Marco D’Amiano of Serie B News, the French defender was reportedly not in his hotel room and therefore in violation of anti-COVID protocol. Despite having a year left on his deal, Billong’s contract will likely be terminated. The 26-year-old played with the NPSL champion Red Bulls U-23 squad in 2014 before stops in Portugal, Slovenia, and Italy.

You can come back to New Jersey, Jean-Claude, but you’ll have to stay inside!

***

The New York Red Bulls announced a partnership with the ridesharing company “RideAlong.” Academy players will receive “end-to-end transportation” from “a team of fully vetted and dedicated drivers.” This is the company’s “first partnership with an MLS academy.” Drivers will sanitize their vehicles and comply with COVID-19 safety standards.

This appears to be a very smart move for a club in a poorly planned and densely populated state of New Jersey. It can take hours to travel during rush hour, which is difficult for families to navigate, especially in a non-residential academy. “I’ve always thought [prohibitive cost] was an excuse, I don’t think it is money,” Director of the Red Bulls Academy Sean McCafferty said in a May interview with Modern Soccer Coach. “I think transportation is the biggest issue. It was getting the players to a certain spot… At Red Bull we’re thinking, ‘How do we get players who are in Queens, in Brooklyn? How do we help them make a decision of Red Bull versus someone else?’ So we’ve come up with a transportation initiative... trying to remove that barrier.”

It appears that the Red Bulls are driving into the future by driving the future players.

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Former Red Bulls defender Fidel Escobar signed a three-year deal with Spanish club AD Alcorcón from San Miguelito. He spent last season on loan with Córdoba CF in the third-tier Segunda División B. Alcorcón represents a step up, in the second tier Segunda División. There reportedly was interest from Malaga and Deportivo La Coruña.

The 25-year-old Panamanian appeared excited with the move. “I am going to give everything for this shirt,” he said after signing. “Now they are my family. I am eager to go to this new destination. It is a great opportunity to learn more in my career and continue climbing.”

Best wishes to the player who was uniquely talented enough to play in three World Cup matches but not MLS.

***

To close things out, here’s a story from the lighter side of things.

Former New York Red Bulls and current Reno 1868 striker Corey Hertzog may be scoreless this season, but he already won the biggest trophy of all. In May, he claimed Nevada Sports Net’s beer pong championship, triumphing over Olympic gymnast Jake Dalton 3-2 in the final round.

Reno’s next match is against Sounders FC 2 on Saturday, August 8th. No word on whether Hertzog will be competing on the tables at halftime.