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Red Bulls Round-Up: February 20, 2021

Kaku makes his Saudi Arabian debut, Jesse Marsch gets linked to another German job, and The Onion pays tribute to the 1999 MetroStars in this week’s links

RB Salzburg v Atletico Madrid: Group A - UEFA Champions League Photo by Michael Molzar/SEPA.Media /Getty Images

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

What a wild few months it’s been. The New York Red Bulls fired a coach, hired a manager, saw the emergence of a young star, and experienced heaps of transfer drama. Sometimes I wonder if there is anything more fulfilling than following and writing about this club. Is there a greater, more fulfilling world out there, with interesting people and exciting adventures? I doubt it.

Here’s this week’s top story.

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Say what you will, but Alejandro “Kaku” Gamarra keeps things interesting. The Argentine-Paraguayan playmaker made a 71 minute appearance in his first match for Al-Taawoun. He registered an assist in his Saudi Professional League debut, a 2-1 loss to Al-Ittihad.

After the match, Kaku shared his thoughts on the performance. “We played a good first half against Al-Ittihad,” he told the club’s official media. “I felt exhausted in the second half, and therefore I was substituted. I still need more time to get along with [Léandre] Tawamba and the rest of the players. I think it’s a good league. I’m happy to be here.”

It’s not a surprise that Kaku might be a little outside of match fitness after only recently returning to training with his new club. Al-Taawoun’s next match is on Monday, February 22nd against Al-Wehda, so it’s possible he won’t take part due to the quick turnaround. If there isn’t enough on-field drama, there’s always the swirling maelstrom of everything else surrounding his career.

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Mathias Jørgensen is four matches into his loan at AGF Aarhus and has played a total of zero minutes. The Danish striker once again did not make the bench for the scoreless draw against Odense Boldklub. He was previously on the club’s injury list.

AGF’s next match is against SønderjyskE on Sunday, February 21st.

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The Red Bulls are reported to have ceased pursuit of Sead Hakšabanović, but that does not mean the drama is over at IFK Norrköping.

Club chairman Peter Hunt has resigned from the Swedish club “with immediate effect” after 12 years. According to auditors, player investments have “required more liquidity” than is available and Norrköping “has been exposed to the risk of insolvency.” Hunt is additionally alleged to have been noncommunicative with the rest of the club’s board regarding many of these decisions and investments.

In January, the Red Bulls’ roughly $4 million offer for Hakšabanović was denied, with Norrköping demanding $5 million. The player criticized his former chairman, believing Hunt to be “unprofessional and disrespectful” in his negotiations with him and the Red Bulls. With the decision maker leaving and the Swedish club possibly in need of money, maybe, just maybe, that transfer story is not completely over.

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Will he once again follow in the footsteps of Marco Rose? With the Borussia Mönchengladbach manager position looking likely to become open, Jesse Marsch is being connected to the role. The former New York Red Bulls pater familias reiterated his current status, refusing to comment on rumors.

“I am under contract until the summer of 2022,” Marsch said before the week’s Europa League fixture. “My full concentration is on this club and our team, especially at the moment, in this tournament against such an opponent. I think for a trainer, it is always important to focus on the tasks ahead. That is clear at the moment.”

Is this Marsch’s last season in Austria? Few would describe the manager as anything other than ambitious, considering he once left a MLS match to catch a flight to a coaching course. Ambition is a respectable quality, particularly if current responsibilities do not slip.

Salzburg would lose, 2-0, against Villarreal in the first leg of the Round of 32.

In addition to coaching, Marsch appeared in an interview with Don MacNaughton, a “leading mental skills and high performance consultant.” The manager discussed how his coaching philosophy shifted from focusing on results to being more concerned about the process. He shared his beliefs that players “respond better to positive feedback than negative” and that emotional intelligence is key to coaching.

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A former Red Bulls academy player may be heading abroad.

Defender Ty Walker is reportedly on trial at Spanish club RCD Mallorca. The towering center was a member of the academy and involved in the Scholar Athletes Leadership Academy, which had him on pace to graduate “six months ahead of schedule.” He had recently committed to the University of Portland’s men’s soccer program.

Walker is a left-footed player who is capable of shutting down opponents and contributing to the attack. The North Carolina native frequently trained with Red Bulls II. Mallorca presents an interesting chance to break into European soccer, with the club currently leading the Segunda División and looking to bounce back into La Liga.

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Meeting at the intersection of Sport Street and Technology Lane, Amro Tarek and Florian Valot produced some videos with YouTuber MoAliFC. “Footballer and influencer” Mo Ali Heydarpour creates content “to teach, entertain, and motivate” his audience. The first video is a tennis ball touch challenge. The second involves a technical training and skills session with the New York Red Bulls veterans.

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Before landing Thomas Tuchel to replace Frank Lampard, Chelsea wanted to bring in Ralf Rangnick. The English Premier League club reportedly wanted Mr. Gegenpress to work as an interim manager, a thoroughly curious claim considering his desire to take on another long-term project. Naturally, he declined.

“I said: ‘I would like to come and work with you, but I can’t do four months. I’m not an interim coach,’” Rangnick told The Sunday Times. “[My next job] would have to be something special. It depends on the club and whether you would want to work with a German coach.”

The 62-year-old also revealed how close he came close to the England National Team job in 2017. The Three Lions opted for the other finalist, Sam Allardyce, a move that ended disastrously. “We know how that went,” remarked Rangnick.

What’s next for the former New York Red Bulls head of international relations and scouting? Is he destined to traverse the globe, eternally connected to storied clubs but never hired? Stay tuned because I have nothing better to publish.

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Former academy, U-23, and reserve team player Barry Sharifi signed with Loudoun United in the USL Championship. The 23-year-old midfielder made 11 appearances last season for Red Bulls II and was released at the end of the season. His new manager praised his “ability to create scoring opportunities” and “commitment on the defensive side” of the ball.

Loudoun United is based in Northern Virginia and serves as D.C. United’s reserve team. Last year, the Leesburg-based outfit finished with a 1-9-3 record. The only way to go is up, an ascent that will be aided by a Red Bull-trained player.

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EDP Soccer announced its “30 Promising Young Coaches under 30” list, selecting through “nominations from club directors, based on the merits of hard work, dedication and competency in their abilities to develop players and teams.” The list features Justin Duque who coaches the Red Bulls’ U-10 Pre-Academy teams after joining the organization in 2017. The former player at St. John’s University is noted for his “ability to connect with the club’s younger players which enables him to create an incredible learning environment.” Also included among the honorees is former academy graduate Brandon Adler who works at Jersey Crew SC.

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Respected publication The Onion compiled a listicle of “The Worst Sports Teams of All-Time.” The 1999 New York/New Jersey MetroStars met the qualifications, with a 7-25 record widely considered to be historically bad by MLS standards. Both manager Bora Milutinović and general manager Charlie Stillitano departed at the end of the season.

“What are you going to do, fact-check us on an MLS team?” quipped the unnamed but sadly correct Onion writer. “Oh, you are? Well look at that, we were right anyway! That team was garbage.”

An entire fan base would agree, considering how many supporters claim they’ve been following the team since 1996. If that were true, then the Red Bulls wouldn’t have an attendance problem. It’s at the point where I respect fans from the last five years for their honesty, instead of the boundless legion of “Original ‘96ers” who seemingly spring up out of the ground.

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Former Red Bulls defender Gideon Baah signed a contract extension with Shakhter Karagandy. The Ghanaian will stay at the Kazakhstan Premier League club through December of 2021. According to Ghana Soccernet, he’s made 19 appearances for the club, which finished in fourth place last season.

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Did you know former MetroStar Gerson Echeverry was the manager of Rio Grande Valley FC? The 1997 forward took over the job in 2018 after several years running the Seton Hall men’s program. After three seasons in charge of the reserve team, he was let go by the Houston Dynamo.

“There’s always a possibility of being replaced when you don’t make the playoffs,” Echeverry told Beautiful Game Network. “However, with our roster limitation, missing 1st team players all year long, and the COVID-19 cases, it was difficult. I feel proud of being able to help in different ways for young players closer to their dream of being full professional soccer players.”

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One former Red Bull that is playing and scoring is… Samuel Tetteh? The Ghanaian attacker who made ten uneventful appearances for Bradley Carnell’s in-flux Red Bulls last season found the back of the net in SKN St. Pölten’s 1-1 draw with SV Ried. He entered the match in the 63rd minute, leveling proceedings in the 83rd by converting his third opportunity of the night.

Tetteh has made four appearances this season for St. Pölten. The 24-year-old joined the Austrian Bundesliga club on a half-year loan from Red Bull Salzburg. His contract with Die Roten Bullen lasts through June of 2022.

Here’s a joke that was submitted by Marion of Passaic.

Did New York tell Tetteh that he was allowed to score?

Thank you, Marion. Perhaps they neglected to do that.

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