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Red Bulls Expert Guide: March 20, 2021

Is Red Bull Necaxa back in business? Will Jesse Marsch move to Celtic? Does Lothar Matthäus deserve to be wished a happy birthday?

MLS - New England Revolution vs New York/New Jersey MetroStars - April 25, 2004
Joselito Vaca, one of the last remaining still-active MetroStars players, became the most-capped Bolivian professional in history last week
Photo by Allen Kee/MLSNETImages

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

Do you enjoy reading these posts as much as I enjoy writing them? Well, I hope not because that would mean you do not enjoy them at all. That’s a joke. I love writing these posts every week. Why else would I perform this ritual unless I gained some sort of financial or personal fulfillment from them? That would be silly and say a lot of depressing things about me.

Here’s this week’s top story.

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Remember those September rumors of Red Bull kicking the tires on purchasing a Mexican club? According to Récord, that club is Necaxa based in the city of Aguascalientes. Economics expert Alberto Aguilar shared the details on Central FM.

“Today there is a negotiation that is being carried out at the moment,” he shared. “I am referring to a very symbolic and very representative team, Necaxa, one of the oldest teams, which belonged to Televisa and was a leader in the 90s… The information I have is that there have been negotiations between [chairman] Ernesto Tinajero and a highly valued beverage company called Red Bull. Red Bull has gotten into sports in Formula One, they also have a team in MLS, and in that sense it could be oriented to the business version in North America. We will see if the negotiation is confirmed.”

The negotiation was, in fact, not confirmed. Two (2!) sources told ESPN there is no truth to the rumors of a possible sale. So, that’s the end of that… unless it isn’t, but it probably is. Although, owning two teams in a combined Liga MX and MLS would probably be awkward.

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Welcome to the semifinals of the King Cup, Al-Taawoun.

The Wolves advanced with a 2-1 victory over Al-Qadisiyah. A certain Argentine-Paraguayan midfielder registered an assist on the game-winning goal, playing one of his expected incisive through balls. Is there a highlight? You bet there is.

Wow, what a pass. Is there any update on that whole Kaku contract thing? No? Okay, that’s fine.

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Did Mathias Jørgensen play in AGF Aarhus’ latest match, a 1-1 draw with Randers?

No, he did not.

Did Mathias Jørgensen make the bench?

No, he did not.

Did Mathias Jørgensen make the preliminary 20-player match day squad?

Yes, he did. So that’s something, I guess.

AGF’s next match is on Sunday, March 21st against Brøndby IF. Jørgensen has played 22 minutes during the half-season loan, appearing in one out of a possible ten matches. His option for Aarhus to buy him from your New York Red Bulls is rumored to be around $800,000.

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The big boys are now entering the Sead Hakšabanović sweepstakes. Well, so far it’s just one big boy.

According to FotbollDirekt, Club Brugge is interested in the Swedish-Montenegrin playmaker. IFK Norrköping is sticking to its guns, demanding around $5,800,000. The top Belgium club has been interested in Hakšabanović for years, dating all the way back to 2016, constantly missing out on his signature.

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Soccer Wire released the list of the “Top 100 Boys Soccer Clubs” for March 2021, judged on “competitiveness of U15-U19 teams, along with key other factors including U.S. Youth National Team call-ups and postseason success in the nation’s top leagues.” The results “are aggregated from YouthSoccerRatings.US,” described as “the most comprehensive database in the youth soccer industry,” the final word some would consider dimly apropos. The site’s methodology is a ranking system that assigns a score based on “Predictive Power,” explained as “how often a higher ranked team beats a lower ranked team.”

Anyway, the Red Bulls Academy comes in at 15th, sandwiched between Texas power Solar SC and Sporting Kansas City. As expected, the top five is, in order, FC Dallas, the Philadelphia Union, the LA Galaxy, Atlanta United, and… D.C. United? Then again, a rating that factors in youth national team call-ups, and apparently only ones from US Soccer, does not appear to be the most valid metric.

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He’s done it. Former MetroStar Joselito Vaca is now the most capped player in the history of Bolivian professional soccer. The Blooming Santa Cruz midfielder made his 628th appearance in a 2-2 draw with Independiente Petrolero.

The 38-year-old has been at his current club in the Liga de Fútbol Profesional Boliviano since 2013. He played with the MetroStars in 2004, scoring one goal in 24 total appearances. His professional career began at the age of 16 with Oriente Petrolero and shows no signs of slowing down or stopping.

Congratulations, Joselito Vaca! Here’s to 628 more.

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Is Jesse Marsch headed to Celtic? The drumbeat for any move is growing ever-louder as the American manager continues to be linked with every manager position from the Belgian First Division A to Chimpan-Z. Of course, he’s playing things cool because Salzburg is still engaged in a title fight.

“I’ve heard [about the links],” Marsch said to BBC Sport. “Three or four years ago, being linked with a club like Celtic would literally be [impossible] for me. And now that is where I am… I know enough about it to say of course it’s interesting. It’s an amazing club and it would be an honor to even be considered.”

Now, the funny thing of it is, he actually hasn’t been connected with the position. Marsch was merely mentioned as a potentially interesting candidate by former players Pat Bonner and James McFadden on BBC Radio Scotland. However, one should never let the opportunity for good publicity go to waste, with the former Red Bulls gaffer turning his radio interview into a job interview.

We could all be so advantageous.

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Recent reserve team signing Jeremy Rafanello was profiled by the Burlington County Times. Unfortunately, the article is behind a paywall. Feel free to pay the “$1 for the first three months” and let me know if he said anything interesting or if there’s anything neat going on in South Jersey.

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Happy birthday, Lothar Matthäus!

The former MetroStar is turning 60. To commemorate the milestone, BR re-released a television special from 20 years ago that followed Matthäus around New York, showing a brief behind-the-scenes look at the Wild West days of Major League Soccer. Enjoy the time capsule and try not to make any jokes about his time at the club. Remember, it’s his birthday.

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According to O Globo, former MetroStar Cláudio Ibrahim Vaz Leal, also known as Branco, is suffering from COVID-19. The Brazilian outlet reports he was admitted to Hospital Copa Star with “severe pulmonary involvement.” He is “receiving all intensive assistance of respiratory support, physiotherapy, and medication,” however, his symptoms recently became worse.

The World Cup winner Branco played for the MetroStars in 1997, making seven MLS appearances.

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Sometimes loans go very poorly. Ambroise Oyongo joined FC Krasnodar in search of playing time, now on the outs at Montpellier. In his first match in Russia, the Cameroonian fullback “seriously injured his left knee.”

In a recent match against FC Oural, Oyongo entered proceedings in the 33rd minute but was replaced at halftime. According to L’Équipe, he has a “ruptured left anterior cruciate” and “will be absent for six months. This is the second major knee injury of his career. The 29-year-old underwent surgery in Barcelona and is set to rehabilitate in France.

Get well soon, Ambroise.

***

Ah… the forwards. The position is a big question heading into the 2021 season, as the Red Bulls struggled to find consistent scoring last year. Michael Battista, writing for NYC Sports Nation, attempts to break down the club’s situation, coming to the conclusion that there might not be a definitive one, with loans and the temporary nature of the current squad build providing opportunities to the current players but few conclusive answers.

One Goal takes a rosier view of things, claiming the club is “stacking U-20 American talent.” Something of a forgotten man amid the hype for others, John Tolkin has the opportunity to break into the roster and make his mark at the club. At only 18 years old, the versatile midfielder-defender might be one to watch in 2021.

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Former Red Bull Tim Cahill participated in the Ability Friendly program. The Australian footballing legend helped run courses “for people with disabilities in Qatar.” The clinic is a joint initiative “between Generation Amazing and the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development.”

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Former on-loan Red Bull Josh Sims caught the injury bug. According to Doncaster Rovers manager Andy Butler, the winger has “a slight nerve problem down his left side and just feels that he’s got no power in his left leg.” The 23-year-old is headed to a specialist and will be out for a few matches.

Sims is set to be a free agent this summer, in case you’re oddly sentimental for Young Designated Players from yesteryear.

Here’s a joke that was submitted by Esme of Boonton.

They should call the club Downcaster because that’s their fortune without Sims.

Thank you, Esme. I’m sure Doncaster will be fine.

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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.