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Weekly News Bulletin: September 7, 2020

Andreas Ivan finds a new club, Red Bull looks to Mexico, and Fidel Escobar makes his parents proud in this week’s links

New York Red Bulls Vs Atlanta United FC
Andreas Ivan has finally found a new club a year after leaving the Red Bulls
Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images

Welcome to the Weekly New Bulletin presented by Once A Metro. Everything you dreamed of reading can be found here. You won’t see your horoscope, the comics, or anything of value, but your brain will be invigorated with Red Bulls stories from around the globe. It’s time for your pill. Open your mind nice and wide.

Here’s this week’s top story.

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Is Red Bull considering adding a new club to its portfolio? According to commentator David Medrano of RÉCORD, the company is running the numbers on Mexican soccer. While several Liga MX clubs have inquired about sponsorship or association, Red Bull would prefer the full Monty of complete acquisition.

Stories and whispers of this nature will emerge from time to time. In the spring, the Austrian owners reportedly battled with City Football Group for FC Ufa in Russia. In 2017, the Netherlands was the intended location for takeover. There was also the “Red Bull Leeds” and “Red Bull Swindon” sagas in 2015 and 2016, respectively.

Liga MX presents an appealing opportunity. The higher value domestic talent has a more sustained history of transfer success than their American counterparts. The league recently got rid of promotion and relegation for the next five years, reducing risks for new owners. For now, the story is column inches, but fans should monitor the situation and consider what impact it could have on the New York outpost.

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Despite being a mere six games into its first Brazilian Série A season, Red Bull Bragantino made a big change at the top. The club announced Felipe Conceição will not continue as manager. The 41-year-old was hired in January but couldn’t survive a 1-3-2 start. According to Universo Online, the relationship between the coach and his players was less than ideal.

In the past month, seven Série A managers have been let go, a stark contrast from other leagues where managers can limp along seemingly forever. Bragantino’s new manager is Mauricio Barbieri, already a veteran with a decade of experience at the age of 38. The São Paulo native previously managed Red Bull Brasil from 2014 through 2016, thus proving that you can go home again - even at the Brazilian outpost of an Austrian beverage corporation’s soccer subsidiary.

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Has Ralf Rangnick already found his next job? Following the collapse of his discussed AC Milan coronation, the Emperor of Energy Drink Soccer is flirting with another Italian club, AS Roma. In a blunt interview with Corriere della Sera, he touched on why the move fell apart (“COVID”), his transfer philosophy (“My job [is] to create value, not buy it”), and the meaning of Ralfball (“high-intensity football, proactive, pressing, long ball counterpressing, and verticality”).

As for Roma, Rangnick notes the club’s “European tradition” while also praising new American owners The Friedkin Group as “successful entrepreneurs” who “will try to put Roma back on the road to success.” This interview comes on the heels of a report (among a few) from Gazzetta dello Sport linking the two parties. While likely not the best manager on the market, Rangnick is certainly the most inventive and creative, which could be what is needed to push the Giallorossi over the hump to its first scudetto since 2001.

Expect this drumbeat to grow progressively louder for Ralf, the former New-York-Red-Bull-Global-Sporting-Coordinator-in-Charge-of-Consulting-I-Don’t-Remember-What-His-Job-Was-Here.

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The coronavirus pandemic has led to many people trying new things. For the New York Red Bulls marketing team, that thing is virtual advertising. With no fans in the stands, there’s room to promote various brands and companies while broadcasting matches.

According to chief revenue and marketing officer Joe Stetson, the team got creative in the form of 14 virtual advertising spots. “[Brand Brigade] came in and spent two days calibrating the production after we purchased tarps to put over the seats that we could use for advertising,” he told ROI-NJ. “We wanted to provide this opportunity to partners that have really engaged with us throughout this year, really worked with us to be creative and finding new ways to activate.”

Money makes the world go round, but fans shouldn’t worry about the match experience becoming too commercialized. Stetson assured that the front office is “conscious and sensitive about making sure we’re not doing too much.” I, for one, always enjoyed the Budweiser frogs and would like to see them make an appearance in the stands at a future match.

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Fidel Escobar will soon begin his season in the Segunda División with AD Alcorcón. The midfielder/defender signed with The Potters in July.

The Panamanian international touched on his time with the Red Bulls, seeming at peace with the loan not becoming permanent. “I can easily play in MLS, but that’s soccer,” Escobar told La Prensa. “We have to wait, we have to train well and the truth is that I could not tell you exactly why I was not playing, if I was well. They called me to the national team and I played every game. Then I went to the World Cup, I came back and I still didn’t play for the Red Bulls. But they are football things.”

Despite being only 25, Alcorcón is the seventh stop in his career, a number inflated by a series of loans orchestrated by Panamanian club San Miguelito. For now, he’s focused on securing promotion to La Liga and reciprocating the level of support received from his parents. Continue to make them proud, Fidel, and don’t worry about things not working out in MLS because I didn’t get it either.

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Planet Football delved into a mystery that has puzzled the minds of Red Bulls fans for years. Why did the club put Digão on the roster? Remus to Kaka’s Romulus, the Brazilian defender spent years on the books at AC Milan before dithering away a wholly confounding year-and-change with the New York Red Bulls.

He played a mere minute in MLS, at the end of the second leg of the quarterfinal round loss to D.C. United. Alexander the Lesser had his contract cancelled by mutual consent, presumably when the club’s pursuit of Kaka ceased. Congratulations to the guy for getting paid and hopefully enjoying New York. As observed by writer Jack Beresford, “Digão may have ridden on the coattails of his sibling’s success, but he deserves enormous credit for hanging on as long as he did.”

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Andreas Ivan has a new club after being released by VfR Aalen. The former Red Bull recently signed with SG Sonnenhof Großaspach of the fourth division Regionalliga Südwest. His contract lasts through June of 2022.

Sonnenhof is looking to rebound from relegation after six straight seasons in the 3. Liga. The club will rely on Ivan’s technical ability, speed, and experience. The Romanian-German winger spent several weeks training with the Aspachians.

There is still no word on whether his surname is pronounced “EYE-ven” or “ee-VON.”

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Heard it from a friend who heard it from a friend who heard it from another you been havin’ CO-… well, never mind. Contrary to reports, former Red Bull Ambroise Oyongo did not have coronavirus and was not in quarantine. He addressed the preseason claim on social media, assuring fans that everything was fine.

Oyongo played for the New York Red Bulls in 2014 before moving to the Montreal Impact. The Cameroonian fullback transferred to Montpellier in January of 2018. La Paillade recently opened the Ligue 1 season with a 2-1 loss to Stade Rennais.

Oyongo was an interesting player, clearly demonstrating a high level of talent, but was not given a full chance to demonstrate his abilities. He’s now in a top league, not delayed or slowed by any setbacks. As recently shared on social media, the 29-year-old “grew up struggling” but believes “what you send to nature, nature sends back.”

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Not every attacker is struggling. Former Red Bulls Rafael “Rafinha” Domingues scored four goals in FC Egg’s 7-2 demolition of FC Nenzing. Considered one of the strongest attackers in the Austrian fourth-tier Vorarlbergliga, the 28-year-old Austrian-Brazilian has been a reliable and consistent presence in the final third. Egg, based in Zürich, is currently in second place, two points behind Admira Dornbirn,

Rafhinha signed for the Red Bulls in March of 2013 following time at various Brazilian clubs. He made zero appearances before being released in June of that same year. He returned to Brazil before moving to Switzerland, then back to Brazil, and finally landing at Egg this past winter. If Mr. Domingues maintains his prolific record, maybe a return to New York wouldn’t be the worst move for either side. At this point, the club should consider a county fair chicken if it promised to consistently score goals.

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The Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference announced its 40th Anniversary Men’s Soccer team. As expected, former Rider Bronc Florian Valot was honored. During his two-year college career, Valot was a two-time All-MAAC First Team selection.

There were several other Red Bull-connected players included. Rider’s José Aguinaga was a 2018 SuperDraft pick and spent a season with Red Bulls II. Iona’s Franklin Castellanos played with the Red Bulls Academy and scored in the famous 4-2 victory over Chelsea F.C. Monmouth goalkeeper Eric Klenofsky who backstopped the U-23s in 2016 earned a nod. Zach Thornton, a MetroStar and Red Bull, was honored despite Loyola no longer being a part of the MAAC.

Congratulations to everyone who succeeded during the college years! I didn’t!

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Saint Leo University’s men’s soccer program announced the hiring of Nick Sakiewicz to an assistant coach position. Described as a former member of the Red Bulls Academy, he spent his college career with West Chester University. The former player has coaching experience at Rosemont, Villanova, Johnson & Wales University – Denver, Guilford, Elon, Chicago Fire, and the U.S. under-16 national team.

His father is former MetroStars President and General Manager Nick Sakiewicz, currently the commissioner of the National Lacrosse League.

There’s something romantic about observing sporting professionals climb the ladder, a path resembling a scatterplot as they quickly jump from position to position in hopes of landing a big break. May your trajectory continue upward, Nick.

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Don’t believe the hype, warns Patrick Seagrist. In an interview with his former Chicago Sockers academy teammate Sean Dube, the Red Bulls fullback shared that he was never highly rated as a prospect or made a youth national team, but he persevered to become a top-10 SuperDraft pick.

“Don’t read into everything the media tells you,” Seagrist told the current Amherst defender. “Top Drawer Soccer has all these rankings of these kids. If you are already looking at that, you’re already out mentally because I was never in one of those top-100 groups. I was never in the youth national teams. Don’t pay attention to that. If you stay focused and believe in yourself, have the right work effort, continue learning from other people, and put in the work, good things will come of it.”

Additionally, the former Marquette Eagle couldn’t name a single thing he dislikes about professional soccer. Seagrist “loves the guys” and “loves the staff.” The fullback, who has made three appearances this season, stated his desire to continue growing and learning at the club.

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Do you want to hang out with Markus Holgersson and talk brewskis? The former Red Bull defender will be at Trelleborg, Sweden’s Hotel Dannegården on September 25th hosting a beer tasting for his company RÅÅ Bryggeri. The retired Holgersson fell in love with the beverage industry during the final year of his playing career and has become quite the proponent of the industry. Be sure to place an order because I’ve been told alcohol is a must-have for any New York area soccer fan.

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The long transfer saga is over. Peterborough striker Ivan Toney is joining Brentford for a club record transfer fee. The deal is reportedly for £5 million but could rise to £10 million with add-ons. There was rumored interest from Celtic, Rangers, West Bromwich Albion, Leeds United, and others.

The English striker was connected to the Red Bulls way back in June. However, sporting director Barry Fry dismissed a £4 million offer, holding out for a bigger payday. A transfer of this magnitude is rare for a lower league club, therefore it was important to capitalize, which Peterborough did.

Red Bulls head of sport Kevin Thelwell has been chasing Toney since as far back as 2014, but it appears the pursuit once again went unrewarded.

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Here’s a joke that was submitted by Agnes of Roselle Park.

“Not since Bobby danced on the Verrazzano Bridge in Saturday Night Fever has there been such unrequited love for a man named Toney.”

Thank you, Agnes. No need to put any sugar in your tea because you’re sweet enough.

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