clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Red Bulls Expert Guide: November 29, 2021

Steven Sserwadda goes viral, Anatole Abang continues to mix it up in Azerbaijan, and more Argentine lawsuit fun in this week’s links

SOCCER: NOV 06 MLS - Conference Semifinal - Leg 2 - Impact at Red Bulls
Gonzalo Veron can’t seem to clear away his legal entanglements.
Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Welcome to the Red Bulls Expert Guide presented by Once a Metro.

The holiday season is here,

A year-end renew,

The wonderful time,

As long as you’re not a blue;

I don’t need gifts,

And neither do you,

We have each other,

In eternal folie à deux.

Here’s this week’s top story.

***

The big news last week was Werder Bremen’s reported pursuit of Gerhard Struber, with the manager “not available” according to Bild. In an interview with Kurier, he revealed that clubs from across Europe were chasing his employment. The manager also expressed his hopes for an active transfer window, claiming the right moves would allow him to stay “for a longer period of time” and “will do everything to take the next step [in New York].”

The interview reminded me of a two-part discussion Struber had with Austrian outlet Laola1 after Barnsley’s great escape from the relegation zone in the summer of 2020. The manager cautioned that he harbors ambitious goals, while noting the club is responsible for “giving him a hand” in the transfer market. There was also a pointed comment with regards to the “repeated” inquiries his agent was receiving, followed by a refusal to rule out an exit. Despite “having no stress at all to leave,” the Austrian would do just that a few months later.

A cynic or a wannabe futurist could perhaps draw some loose parallels between the two situations. When hiring a buzzy manager like Struber, there is a tacit understanding of his eventual departure, as the ambitious possess a desire to climb the ladder and MLS is far from the top rung. With the recent interview in Kurier, the Sword of Damocles that was once stowed away in the closet has now been strung aloft by the most tenuous of bull’s hairs waiting to snap.

This upcoming transfer market should be interesting for one and all.

***

KVC Westerlo took down Lommel SK – of which City Football Group owns 99% – by a 1-0 margin. The club is ten points clear at the top of the Belgium First Division B table. David Jensen made several key saves from close range, as is the norm.

***

Austin FC is set to host the first-ever El Arbolito Cup at the St. David’s Performance Center from December 10th through 12th. The inaugural competition will be contested by U-12 teams representing the hosts and “six other Major League Soccer academies.” The New York Red Bulls are set to compete in the 9v9 tournament, playing four matches in three days.

***

If there is one organization that benefits from the Red Bulls Academy, it’s the Rutgers University men’s soccer program. The Scarlet Knights recently completed a 9-6-2 season, buoyed by the recruitment of local talents. Manager Jim McElderry describes incoming players as “dedicated” while also “knowing how to balance their time well.”

The whole article has some complimentary quotes.

***

Following his quarantine period, Kaku arrived in Saudi Arabia from Paraguay. He registered an assist in Al-Taawoun’s 1-1 draw against Al Feiha, denied three points by a 95th minute goal. The Cooperation is still stuck in the relegation zone, unable to get any sort of groove going.

***

I’m not a social media professional, but the New York Red Bulls are probably going to tweet a bit more about Steven Sserwadda in light of these numbers.

After a very, very, very long transfer saga, the Ugandan midfielder joined the club’s reserve team in September. He made four appearances in the USL Championship, impressing with his speed and attacking awareness. As a key performer for the U-20 squad, the 19-year-old is considered a future star for his national team program.

***

Gonzalo Verón wants his money.

The former Designated Player is reportedly owed $6,200,000 from Independiente, the club from which he was released due to lack of payment. The Argentine outfit offered $2,000,000 in ten installments, since rejected by the 31-year-old. According to TyC Sports, a “preventive embargo for $4,800,000” has been delivered. Verón is seeking to regain the money lost from “contractual debt, double compensation for the remainder of his bond, and the money he lost out of pocket when he terminated his contract with the New York Red Bulls.”

In response, Independiente reported a “criminal counterclaim” for “procedural fraud and ideological falsification of a public document.” The club asserted that the lawsuit featured “a true criminal maneuver,” sending the initial notice “during the most pressing period of the pandemic” when the headquarters were “completely closed.” This case could hold up the initial civil suit, potentially forcing Verón to “assume all the consequences of the precautionary measure.”

I’m not quite sure what any of this means, but the situation is getting dicey. Unfortunately, I am not a legal expert. The only court I understand is the one at the mall.

***

Here’s a blast from the past.

Former New York Red Bulls II striker Zoumana Simpara signed with SC Toulon of the fourth-tier Championnat National 2 in France. He was a member of the 2016 squad that won the USL Cup, scoring two goals in 19 regular season appearances. Following his release, the teenager re-joined AS Bakaridjan in the Malian Première Division.

“I’ve been told a lot about SC Toulon,” Simpara told the club’s official website. “It’s a great club. This is my first experience in France and I really hope to be able to contribute to the team. I will give my all!”

Toulon is currently at eighth in the 16-team Group C table, with promotion looking out of reach. The club – which enjoyed a glorious decade in the top division from 1983 through 1993 – is the product of a recent merger between Sporting Toulon Var and SC Toulon-Le Las. The club’s badge features the most delightful poisson rouge (red fish, if you’re an uncultured heathen).

***

Former Red Bulls U-23s and Red Bulls II goalkeeper Rashid Nuhu had quite the season for Union Omaha. The 25-year-old was named to the All-League second team and was nominated for Goalkeeper of the Year. The Owls finished atop the regular season table and won the USL League One championship with a 3-0 win over Greenville Triumph SC.

Whether Nuhu celebrated with a runza – a local Nebraska delicacy that is sort of like a big Hot Pocket – remains unconfirmed.

***

Jan Halvor Halvorsen did an incredible job, coaching fallen angels Bryne FK from the third tier up to the second division (confusingly known as the 1. divisjon is Norway). After a respectable tenth-place finish, he took the job at Lyn Fotball on a three-year contract. “It is a project that I am really looking forward to embarking on in the new year,” said the former Red Bulls assistant. “It will be a really exciting journey, and together we will work to get [the club] back in top football.”

Similar to Bryne (and also rhyming), Lyn is looking to relive the glory days and Halvorsen appears the very man to cause a little chaos.

***

Surprise abounded when Carlos Coronel was not nominated for 2021 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year. The Brazilian tied for most shutouts and was a key part of a quite stingy defense. His actions outside of the box and acrobatic wonder-saves fit perfectly with the Red Bulls’ high pressing system.

Curious as to snub, I asked an MLS Western Conference team’s scout for his opinion.

That makes sense on some level. While Matt Turner won the award, his play noticeably declined over the course of the season and was not at the same level of last year. Coronel will have to wait his turn and should look forward to having his name etched on the 2023 trophy, if he comes back to New York.

***

Let’s be clear about one thing: Anatole Abang wants to stay in Azerbaijan.

The striker spoke with Sportal.az and contradicted a recent report about his future. “Why should I lie?” said the Cameroonian. “I did not receive any offer. I have no offers from Azerbaijan or foreign clubs… I cannot say a word about [staying at Keşla] because I don’t know yet… I have not received an offer from any club. But, as I said, if there is a good offer in Azerbaijan, of course I will stay here.”

One offer Abang does have is not from a club at all but the Cameroon national team. In the midst of the holiday season came the gift of a second interview from the former Red Bulls striker. His conversation with writer Javid Aliyev of Offside Plus provided this scintillating back-and-forth:

OP: Is there an offer from the Cameroon national team?

AA: Yes, but I did not accept.

OP: Why?

AA: There are some reasons.

OP: Can you explain?

AA: No!

The secretive striker selectively shared that he received a phone call from none other than Samuel Eto’o, asking him to return to international soccer. The 25-year-old has made six appearances for Les Lions Indomptables, the most recent in a 2016 World Cup qualifier against Zambia. Abang endeavors to return in the future when “ready.”

Loyal readers will endure a shorter wait, as he is always welcome, invited, and manages to appear in the pages of Once a Metro.

***

When I have kids (someday?), they will surely attend the ZE Football Academy in Aix-en-Provence. The school is run by Ronald Zubar and his teamiend/frienmate, Steeve Elana. The former Red Bulls defender was running a program in Bouches-du-Rhône, hoping to eventually expand into his beloved Guadeloupe.

ZE Football Academy “welcomes children of expatriates from all over the world, from kindergarten to high school.” Players train at the school during the week and compete with their clubs on the weekends. Located at the International Bilingual School of Provence, the coaches promote “team spirit, respect, fair play, combativity, and much more.”

That “much more” better include embarrassing opponents because I want my children (that I will definitely have) to be winners.

Here’s a joke that was submitted by Dorcas of Hoboken.

I sent my kids to boarding school and haven’t heard from them since. Best decision I ever made.

Thank you, Dorcas. I’m sure they weren’t too lonely on Parents’ Day.

***

Do you have a story you’d like to submit to the Expert Guide? Email us at bencorkOAM@gmail.com or send a DM to @Once_A_Metro on Twitter.