Welcome to the Red Bulls Round-Up presented by Once a Metro.
We’re halfway through January, which means we’re also 1/24th through the year. What have you accomplished with your time? Maybe you started a resolution or two? Did you pick up that book you’ve always been meaning to read? Don’t let time slip away, not like me, chained to this weekly blog post that takes up too much of my time and energy.
Here’s this week’s top story.
Are the Red Bulls circling a new defender?
Colombian youth international Andrés Reyes published a story on his personal Instagram account indicating that he is in Hanover, New Jersey. The picture - taken outside of a DICK’S Sporting Goods - may indicate something, but I’ll allow you to draw your own conclusions. Social media speculation can be so gauche, although there may be something to this one.
Reyes spent last season with Inter Miami, on loan from Colombian super club Atlético Nacional. He started 13 matches, but his option to buy was not pursued by the expansion team. The 21-year-old suffered a “scary injury” at the MLS is Back Tournament following a collision with Dom Dwyer, however he made a full and immediate recovery.
According to a report from ESPN, he was training away from the main squad while Atlético Nacional’s technical secretary “looked for a team.” Despite wanting an opportunity, the Puerto Tejada native was deemed surplus to manager Alexandre Guimarares’ needs. Gente, Pasión y Fútbol wrote that a “MLS decision is still pending” on Reyes, “whose record could continue in that country on loan.”
Gerhard Struber did recently mention “the strong South American influence in Major League Soccer” but perhaps Reyes just wanted to hang out in Hanover, New Jersey for no other reason than it’s a happening place.
To the surprise of no one, Kurier writes that “at least one player should come from Salzburg to MLS.” According to writers Alexander Huber and Stephan Blumenschein, manager Gerhard Struber has already earmarked a few. “There are interesting players in Salzburg, the quality is overwhelming,” he told the Austrian outlet. “The question is how we can actually use the synergies.”
Don’t expect any of those players to be Samuel Tetteh whose loan deal was neither extended nor made permanent after 10 appearances. The Ghanaian attacker “didn’t feel comfortable in the USA.” With a contract that lasts until summer of 2022, Salzburg will likely assess its options with the player who has yet to replicate his pre-injury form.
Kurier also published an extended version of last week’s interview with the Austrian manager in Kleine Zeitung. A start date for the 2021 season has yet to be established, and “training can only begin exactly six weeks before the start of the season.” He’ll return to the United States before the end of the month.
Struber claims to have “very high goals around [him] in New York” but “knows everyone at Red Bull and what is expected.” The club “doesn’t want to spend huge amounts of money, but rather bring young, highly talented players from Europe and the USA to develop something together.” Current transfer rumors appear in line with that philosophy.
The big question is will he stick around after leaving his last two jobs so quickly? “The [American] culture allows me to further develop my skills as a trainer,” said the 43-year-old. “If I leave my stamp here again, then many doors into the big football world will be open.”
Sometimes the best way to be truly appreciated is to leave.
The Molineux View podcast questioned whether Wolverhampton Wanderers is worse off without the influence of former sporting director Kevin Thelwell. The club’s recent transfers have caused rumination, questioning the thought process behind some of the moves. The front office may be missing the steadying influence of the current Red Bulls head of sport.
“I think they do miss Kevin Thelwell,” said host Tim Spiers. “I think they miss his overall big picture, overarching kind of look at it. That was kind of one of his major strengths in looking at the kind of players that would be coming through, looking at where there were gaps in the squad.”
The Red Bulls appear to be benefitting from Thelwell’s experience and acumen. After a few stops and starts, the incoming player rumors are trending in quite the positive direction. Although it’s still early days, and matches aren’t won in the transfer market.
The International Federation of Football History & Statistics named the “World’s Best Club Coach of the Decade” for 2011 through 2020. The organization used “an equitable method” to determine the top 20, ranking several categories to find a winner. Diego Simeone was ruled the top dog, but in 19th place with 22 points is an American named Jesse Marsh. I wonder if he’s related to former New York and current Salzburg manager Jesse Marsch.
Speaking of the old gaffer, he appeared on TSN to talk up his old assistant coach and “right hand man,” Chris Armas, who was recently hired by Toronto FC. Declaring the move “really smart,” Marsch shared his belief that the Canadian club has more to offer than the Red Bulls. “The resources, the tools, the commitment from the organization [are] at a different level than anywhere other than here in Austria and Leipzig that I’ve been,” the 47-year-old told Kristian Jack. “In New York we had a lot of success, but we didn’t have all the resources that Toronto has and the commitment.”
Ignoring a debate on validity, those are some curiously open comments from Marsch, normally tight-lipped and full of praise for Red Bull ownership.
His homecoming was disrupted by a positive COVID test, but Mathias Jørgensen was able to make the best of it with family. The on-loan striker received the positive test on Christmas Eve, informing testers it was “a boring present.” However, he was able to enjoy Christmas dinner at a “scattered, distant” table with rubber gloves and a mask. The 20-year-old enjoyed sitting with his parents and relaxing, something that was not possible to do for the previous year.
Post-quarantine, Jørgensen had his first training session with new club AGF. His contract status remains temporary, with an ambiguous future ahead. “If nothing else happens, I’ll be back in six months,” he told Danish weekly magazine Tipsbladet. “So I’m not dismissive of anything. Nor am I at all reluctant to return. Now I focus on the fact that tomorrow we have hard training again, and then it is important for me to show that I want this project for the next six months. Then I have no doubt that in half a year there will probably be a clarification.”
To kick off his new tenure, Jørgensen appeared in AGF’s 2-2 friendly draw against Viborg FF. The future is coming whether we want it to or not. Each person must choose to be a grasshopper or an ant. Some can even be both with the help of Doctor Moreau.
It’s not just the current players receiving recognition from their former colleges and universities.
New York Red Bulls on-camera and arena host Melissa Ortiz was named to the Sunshine State Conference Women’s Soccer All-Decade team. She played for NCAA Division II Lynn University – located in sunny Boca Raton, Florida – from 2008 through 2011, earning all-conference honors every season. The 30-year-old was a member of the Colombian national team, scoring three goals in 28 matches and appearing at the 2012 London Olympics and 2014 Copa América, the latter at which Las Cafeteras won the silver medal.
In addition to her Red Bulls duties, Ortiz is a digital host for La Liga, beIN SPORTS, and other organizations. She recently co-founded Kickoff Coffee Co., which endeavors to “show the beautiful cultures between soccer and coffee.” The recently started company offers a blend of Colombian, Kenyan, and Costa Rican beans and will “donate 10% of the profits to soccer nonprofits around the world.”
Not content with the 38 local shows dedicated to the club, the Red Bulls made themselves the talk of the French podcast scene this past week.
Jason Pendant appeared on the MoneyTime podcast, a comedy show that promises to take listeners on “a tour of sports news.” On the latest episode, the hosts and guests discussed Lyon, PSG, and Dimitri Payet. What did the Red Bulls defender have to say on those topics? I have no idea because the show is in French.
Florian Valot appeared on the Athletico Ventures podcast to discuss his investment in Sports Dynamics. On the latest episode, the host and guest discussed business motivations, start-ups, and personal development. What did the Red Bulls midfielder have to say on those topics? I have no idea because the show is in French.
More Red Bulls from days gone by have found new clubs or re-signed with the same ones.
The recently released Chris Lema linked up with USL Championship club San Antonio FC. The 24-year-old midfielder was with the Red Bull organization since 2010 and was a member of the MLS squad in 2020. He made zero appearances last season and is “extremely grateful for this opportunity” at his new club.
Former U-23 and II team player José Aguinaga hopped aboard El Paso Locomotive FC. The 25-year-old Spaniard spent the past two seasons with USL power Phoenix Rising, claiming last year’s Western Conference Championship. The one-time Real Madrid academy scholar is “really excited to join the team” and believes “the style of play fits with [him] really well.”
Karl Ouimette is entering his fourth season with Indy Eleven. Described as a “pivotal contributor,” the Canadian center back is the club’s leader in USL Championship appearances with 77. The 28-year-old played with the Red Bulls in 2015 and 2016, after which he spent an NASL championship winning season with the San Francisco Deltas (sorry, “Soccer Bowl winning season”) before landing as his current home in the Hoosier state.
Outside of USL, former reserve team defender Edgardo Rito signed with Patriotas de Boyacá of the Colombian Categoría Primera A. The 24-year-old was formerly on loan in 2017 with the club located in the city of Tunja. He played with Red Bulls II in 2019 and 2020, making 34 regular season appearances.
Former Homegrown Ben Mines has safely landed with FC Cincinnati. The 20-year-old attacker spoke with the Cincinnati Enquirer, sharing his excitement for the move. “It’s good to be in an environment where young players are allowed to make mistakes and grow, and that’s the kind of feeling that I get,” he told writer Pat Brennan. “Obviously, there’s pressure to win, but you almost want to have that net underneath you that it’s okay to make mistakes… It’s good to be in that kind of environment.”
What better place to make mistakes and receive forgiveness than Cin Sity?
If the Red Bulls are still looking for a striker, maybe they should last year’s scouting files.
One-time rumored transfer target Lawrence Shankland hit an absolute nutter, mate. According to BBC Sport Scotland, the Dundee United striker drilled in a shot from 52.98 yards out, one-timing a ball over the head of the hapless St. Johnstone keeper to level the match. The fixture finished in a 2-2 draw.
Shankland was reportedly considered a secondary option for the Red Bulls in January of last season. According to the Daily Record, Aberdeen striker Sam Cosgrove was the top choice, but neither player would end up signing. The former stayed with The Terrors in their return to the Scottish Premier League. The latter rejected an agreed upon transfer to Ligue 1 outfit Guingamp, suffered a severe injury, and is still waiting for his next move.
The Red Bulls’ hunt for a prolific striker continues… until… now. No, I’m kidding. It’s still ongoing.
Former academy player Matt Olosunde etched his name in the history books, scoring in the third round of the 140th edition of the Football Association Challenge Cup. The 22-year-old right-back pounced on the ball in the box, slotting his shot into the corner while falling down to level the score. Unfortunately, Rotherham would be bounced from the competition, losing 2-1 to Everton.
Despite the defeat, praise rained upon Olosunde. “I thought he was a thorn in their side from start to finish,” said manager Paul Warne. “He was good and I don’t know if it was the end of the second half or extra time, but [Everton manager] Carlo [Ancelotti] changed his shape to match us up in the middle because we were over-running them, which is a right compliment.”
The performance came at quite the opportune time for the Trenton, New Jersey native. Recently, Larry Henry of Soccer By Ives reported Olosunde is receiving transfer interest from Sheffield Wednesday and Norwich. After his FA Cup performance, the list of suitors may grow a bit longer.
Here comes the hotstepper… O-be-kop.
Babe, you gotta believe me. I was just kidding about that whole Marius Obekop to CS Sfaxien thing. The Cameroonian attacker is apparently not heading to Tunisia. According to Lion Indomptable, he will be signing for Masafi Sports Club of the second-tier UAE First Division League.
The club is currently in fourth place with 12 points from seven matches. The top two teams earn promotion to the UAE Pro League. On his days off, Obekop can enjoy the Masafi Friday Market, which Wikipedia tells me is actually open every day of the week and offers all sorts of vegetables and souvenirs.
Here’s a story that was submitted to the Round-Up by Juan from the OaM bureau in Oakland.
Former Red Bulls II goalkeeper Miguel Silva appears to have a new club. The 20-year-old is training with Deportes La Serena of the Chilean Primera División and can be registered for the next season. The Venezuelan youth international was with the USL reserve side in 2019 and made zero appearances.
It’s praise on top of praise on top of praise for former Red Bulls goalkeeping coach Andrew Sparkes. Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhüttl cannot stop talking up his assistant in the media. First, it was for developing the abilities of starter Alex McCarthy and increasing his confidence. Then, back-up Fraser Forster’s growth was mentioned in a separate interview. This culminated with a complimentary press conference following a 1-0 victory over Liverpool.
Congratulations to Mr. Sparkes for succeeding in the Premier League and finding a boss who is unafraid to share the spotlight. That’s truly a wonderful working relationship I hope to experience in the future. I doubt it will ever happen at Once a Me-
Last month, MetroStars manager Carlos Queiroz departed his role in charge of the Colombia national team. The decision came after Los Cafeteros (The Coffee Growers) dropped two matches in CONMEBOL World Cup Qualifying. The disastrous defeats – 3-0 to Uruguay and 6-1 to Ecuador – saw the country fall to seventh in the 10-team standings.
Queiroz was in charge of the MetroStars during the club’s inaugural season from May 30th, 1996 through October 2nd, 1996, taking over for Eddie Firmani. The team finished in 3rd place in the Eastern Conference and reached the MLS Cup quarterfinals. He resigned to take over Nagoya Grampus Eight in the Japanese league, accepting what was described as an “extremely lucrative” offer.
Once again a free agent, hopefully another windfall is in his future.
Former Homegrown Mael Corboz also has a new home. The 26-year-old midfielder joined SC Verl of the German 3. Liga. Last season, the club earned promotion from the Regionalliga West and is currently in seventh place, a comfortable distance from relegation.
A former academy player, Corboz signed with the Red Bulls in December of 2015 as a part of Ali Curtis’ seven-player Homegrown class. He was waived before the beginning of the season and signed with the Wilmington Hammerheads. In August of that same year, the Alabama native joined German club MSV Duisburg, which was followed by stints with Wattenscheid 09 and Dutch second division side Go Ahead Eagles.
Now he’s back in Germany, enjoying the nomadic European life we all dream of leading but not possessing the necessary courage, financial security, or immigration paperwork to experience.
Former President of FC Barcelona Joan Laporta shared the “funny anecdote” of how the club signed Rafa Márquez. Apparently, he lucked into acquiring the Mexican midfielder-defender, by blithely agreeing to a handshake deal with agent Jorge Mendes for a fee that was considered impossibly low. When the player showed up unannounced in Spain with an acceptance from Monaco, the Catalans moved forward with the deal.
What a hilarious story.
Here’s a joke that was submitted by Winifred of Woodbridge.
“That’s not half as funny as the Red Bulls paying Marquez $4.6 million per year.”
Thank you, Winifred. That money probably could have been better spent on… well… a lot of things.
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.