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Red Bulls Round-Up: February 13, 2021

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Red Bull plants its flag in the Netherlands, Jason Pendant strikes fear into the hearts of potential national team opponents, and Kemar Lawrence turns from Taxi to Uber in this week’s links

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SOCCER JPL D15 SPORTING CHARLEROI VS RSCA ANDERLECHT Photo by BRUNO FAHY/BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images

Welcome to the Red Bulls Round-Up presented by Once a Metro.

Sometimes the best course of action is to say nothing. It goes beyond the old adage “Silence is golden.” Not everything requires a comment or input. Information will reach the ears of others precisely when it is supposed to, and there is no need for you, me, or anybody to serve as a pack mule or town crier. Focus on yourself because people are going to like or dislike you regardless of what you do. Definitely don’t write a weekly post in the desperate hope of receiving validation.

Here’s this week’s top story.

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Has Red Bull identified a new club to purchase?

According to AZ Fanpage, the company “may invest in AZ Alkmaar soon.” The blog – billed as “the number one fan site for AZ supporters” – reported that club representatives are “sitting around the table with representatives from the Austrian giant.” The rumor was sourced by multiple parties, necessitating its publication. The story has begun spilling out into the greater media, hitting Voetbal Flitsen, Spox, Laola1, and Voetbal Nieuws.

This would not be the first time Red Bull was reportedly considering expanding the football empire, most recently connected to FC Ufa in Russia. Alkmaar is an interesting option as a regular in the Eredivisie, finishing last season as runner-up. For an organization focused on youth recruitment and development, they could do a lot worse than planting a flag in the Netherlands.

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The long transfer saga of Alejandro “Kaku” Gamarra continues.

Despite discussion of the Argentine-Paraguayan playmaker appearing for Al-Taawoun, he was not included in the match day roster for the Saudi Pro League fixture against Al-Qadisiyah. Kaku has been participating in training following a quarantine period. A sourced report from Jeff Carlisle of ESPN indicates the Red Bulls are “pursuing all legal remedies” over the contract dispute.

The Wolves’ next match is on Thursday, February 18th against Al-Ittihad.

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The mere idea of Jason Pendant joining the Vietnamese national team is striking fear into the hearts of opponents. The Siamsport newspaper, based in Thailand, published a picture of the Red Bulls left back under the headline “Vietnam will be very scary if they bring a French overseas player.” The two countries are fierce rivals, last facing off in 2022 World Cup Qualifying. The Rồng Vàng lead the series with 22 wins, 19 losses, and 10 draws since 1956.

Pendant has publicly expressed a desire to suit up for his mother’s country, but there is little communication between the player and the national federation. Vietnam has fairly important World Cup qualifiers in March and June, followed by the AFF Championship next December. Before the 24-year-old commits his international future, there are “legal difficulties” that require solving.

That gives us plenty of time to work on chants. How about something like “Pendant’s on fire, now Thailand is terrified!” No, no, that’s too hackneyed.

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It was another full house when Anderlecht took on Genk on Sunday, February 7th in the Belgian Pro League. The Purple & White emerged victorious thanks to a backline featuring Kemar Lawrence, Amir Murillo, and Matt Miazga. The ex-Red Bull trio gave up a goal in the second minute but held firm the rest of the way.

The Jamaican left back has become the toast of the town, now firmly entrenched in the lineup and dishing out zingers during press conferences. “Attacking is not prohibited, but defense is a priority,” Lawrence shared recently. “Taxi has become Uber. I have to choose my moments.”

The situation has truly turned around in Belgium. It’s been a difficult year, but Lawrence is doing well “besides missing [his] wife and children.” After all, “life has always been hard,” and the 28-year-old continues to push forward.

Keep pushing forward, Kemar, just, you know, not on the field.

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Florian Valot sat down for an interview with i80 Sports. The French midfielder discussed “injury recovery, life during COVID, and his outlook for the 2021 season.” He even shared his thoughts on the new manager’s potential tactics.

“You don’t know what COVID’s going to be like again this year,” the 28-year-old told hosts Bob and Alex. “What kind of formation are we going to play with this new coach? I have no idea. The only thing I know is I’ve prepared well enough to be really competitive this year and then after going through 2020 with success for me, like playing every game, I think I can set goals to be more productive for the team depending on where I’m going to play, if I’m going to play.”

Valot’s favorite moment is the 4-0 win over New York City FC. His mother and father were in town for the match, adding an extra level of importance. Perhaps there will be more derby victories in the future for the committed Pokémon card collector.

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One former and one current Red Bull appeared together on the Sam’s Army Podcast. Tim Parker and Caden Clark discussed a wide variety of topics. The former discussed his trade to Houston, the latter his upcoming goals.

Parker shared that he learned about the trade rumors on Twitter, claiming he “Red Bull was not giving [his agent] any information.” However, the center back is exciting to go to Houston. The 27-year-old will miss “the city” the most and was one of the only players on the team to live there.

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It had been five long months since Anatole Abang played an official match, but now he’s back, back in a Keshla groove with three fixtures under his belt.

The Cameroonian striker signed with Keşlə Futbol Klubu in January, hoping to return the two-time champions of the Azerbaijani Premier League to its glory days of the late 00s. The club is currently at seventh place in the table, tied with Sabail and Sabah on points and only avoiding the relegation zone with head-to-head results. There’s still half a season left to play, which should see the coastal outfit rocket up the table on the back of the new signing.

In his first league appearance, Abang started and played 90 minutes in a 1-0 loss to Sumgayit. Despite failing to score, manager Sanan Gurbanov stuck with the striker, using him in both legs of the Azərbaycan Koboku (Azerbaijan Cup) quarterfinals against second division club Kapaz. After starting the first match, a 1-0 victory, he entered the second as a substitute in the 76th.

With Keşlə up a goal and advancement all but secured, it was time for Abang to shine. As one expects from the target striker, he rose to meet a cross in the 90th minute, finishing past the opponent goalkeeper. The crowd at the ASK Arena was stunned into silence because nobody was there.

Keşlə advances to the semifinals to take on Zira. The two-legged series is on April 20th and 28th. Consult your local programming guide, as I’m sure your cable package covers Azerbaijani cup soccer.

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Long Island-based Royal Soccer Training announced the start of “professional brand representation” for former Red Bull Mike Grella. The company will “coordinate invite only clinics, camps, and supplemental training” for Mike Grella Soccer – Elite Training. The retired attacker offers “exclusive programs” to help players reach the next level.

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Former first-team and second-team scout Carlo Acquista appeared on the Kwik Chat podcast, sharing his background and providing insight into his professional path. He explained why he left the Red Bulls organization after a year and returned to the college game. Despite describing himself as “a geek” for talent evaluation, the Fordham men’s soccer manager missed the personal relationships with players.

“I went to the pro ranks and enjoyed myself,” Acquista told host Erik Imler of Kwik Goal. “Spent a year there. Didn’t think about leaving until a couple good college jobs opened up… One of the reasons why my pathway brought me back to college was the scouting part was cool, but the relationships with players, for me, was more important. As a scout, you don’t have relationships.”

Acquista took over the Fordham program in January of 2019. In his first season, the Rams finished with a 7-10-3 record, losing in the semifinals of the Atlantic 10 Championship to Rhode Island on penalties. His coaching staff features none other than Šaćir Hot as an assistant coach. The former Homegrown, current FC Motown manager, and forever favorite of Once a Metro was recently promoted from a volunteer role. The university, based in the Bronx, kicks off its 2021 COVID-necessitated irregular spring season on Saturday, February 13th against Fairleigh Dickinson.

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Here’s a story that was submitted to the Round-Up by Eric of Montclair.

One-time academy player Diogo Rebelo has landed in Portugal, signing with Leixões S.C. of the second-tier Liga Portugal 2. He is a member of the club’s U-23 side. The midfielder played with the Red Bulls U-17 and U-19 team and was named by OaM’s J.J. Post as one of the academy’s players to watch last year. The Harrison native originally signed with the New Jersey Institute of Technology but appears to have pursued a professional career.

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Former academy director David Longwell has stepped up in the absence of Shrewsbury Town manager Steve Cotterill. He was appointed in a temporary role in January of 2021 and has led the League One club to some solid results. His work at the youth level was already receiving praise, recently earning a promotion to the interim assistant role. The *checks notes* Shrews are enjoying a fantastic run of form, charging out of the relegation zone and safely positioned reasonably close to mid-table.

Longwell was hired by the Red Bulls as academy director in August of 2017. The Scotsman lasted a little over a year in the role, departing in November of 2018. Shrewsbury chief executive Brian Caldwell labeled the acquisition “a coup,” believing him to be a “great asset to the club.” That statement is more prescient than could have ever possibly been realized at the time.

Here’s a joke that was submitted by Ruth of Maplewood.

Shrewsbury sounds like where my mother-in-law should live.

Thank you, Ruth. It sounds like you two have a great relationship.

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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.