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Red Bulls Expert Guide: March 6, 2021

Mathias Jørgensen finally hits the field in Denmark, Bradley Carnell explains how he fixed last season’s tactics, John Wolyniec earns a new diploma and more in this week’s links

North Carolina FC v New York Red Bulls II Photo by Andy Mead/ISI Photos/Getty Images

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

It’s March which means we are marching toward another season of Major League Soccer action. I’m excited. Are you excited? You better be or I’m going to find out and ban you from reading this website. I’m just kidding. I wouldn’t ban you. That would decimate an embarrassingly significant portion of our readership. I’ve looked at the analytics, and they are…just please keep reading.

Here’s this week’s top story.

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Sometime around September of last season, the New York Red Bulls underwent a massive change. Seemingly on pace to miss the playoffs, interim manager Bradley Carnell righted the ship and steered his team to a sixth place finish in the Eastern Conference and a coveted spot in the 2021 Leagues Cup. Are you like me and have no idea what tactical ideas he implemented during his brief time in charge? Left Back Football has an obscenely thorough breakdown to satisfy your needs.

To briefly and bluntly summarize, Carnell took steps to reinvigorate the press and make the speed of play faster. He focused on “early passes” but was at times undone by not having enough time to work with the squad. Additionally, the attack became “more vertical and direct,” with switching the field to the weak side “an integral facet in the possession phase.”

As writer Chaka Simbeye observes, Carnell “has the ideas to take over a [team] within the Red Bull network,” suggesting Salzburg reserve side Liefering. The opinion borders on fact considering the club’s rapid revival last season. With his pedigree as a player and past rumors of interest elsewhere, it’s hard to imagine the South African coach will be sticking around New York for too much longer.

But again, read the whole post. Go, now. Click the link because I assure you that none of my ensuing blathering is better than that.

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The breakthrough has arrived.

Mathias Jørgensen made his debut for AGF Aarhus, playing 22 minutes in his club’s 3-3 draw with FC Copenhagen. The Danish striker received a yellow card in the 90th minute, as his club failed to hold onto a three-goal lead. Despite a promise to protest a late VAR penalty, CEO Jacob Nielsen elected to accept the result.

In the second match of the week, the boys from Jutland lost to Nordsjælland by a 1-0 margin. Jørgensen did not make the match day roster. AGF’s next match is against league-leading FC Midtjylland on Sunday, March 7th.

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The culmination of a year-long journey, John Wolyniec has earned his U.S. Soccer Pro Coaching License. The federation’s coursework is “designed for coaches to further develop the skills and competences necessary to work as a professional coach in a professional environment.” The certification is the highest FIFA-level designation recognized in North America.

“The U.S Soccer Pro Course was a challenging and amazing experience,” Wolyniec told USLChampionship.com. “The instructors were totally engaged and very knowledgeable. The other candidates are incredible people that were open and honest. I thank them for all the experience and for helping me get better.”

The former MetroStar and Red Bull striker was named the manager of Red Bulls II in March of 2015. Wolyniec won the 2016 USL Championship and was named the league’s Coach of the Year. Long mentioned as a possibility for several roles at other clubs but never actually rumored or connected, perhaps the 44-year-old is considering flying the coop or maybe he just enjoys structured professional development.

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Are you a job seeker with a desire to work for the New York Red Bulls? The club is hiring a Financial Analyst to “provide ongoing strategic decisions support to all business areas.” The temporary position starts immediately with “an expected end date through November 2021,” presumably indicating the team will not be making the MLS Cup final.

The “essential functions” of the job include “maintaining financial models, working with budget owners to support the management of revenue, and providing support on all finance-related forward looking analysis. The Red Bulls are seeking a person with “excellent interpersonal and communication skills” and two-to-three years of experience” to work “varying schedules.” Feel free to apply if all of that sounds cool to you. I will not be applying in order to give someone else a chance and not because I’m completely unqualified.

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Writer Eric Friedlander got the lowdown on the Red Bulls Academy. In a wide-ranging interview for American Soccer Now, he spoke with director Sean McCafferty and manager of business operations Ryan Brooks. The recent innovations include a homestay program, an education partnership with the Scholar Athletes Leadership Academy, and a hugely impactful transportation upgrade, all designed to better prepare players to become professionals.

“We missed out on a kid that we wanted, but that was before we had the ride along service,” Brooks told ASN. “So this is the first part of perfecting the routes. Currently we have nine different routes for kids and each route there’s a tremendous logistical matrix that goes on a daily basis.”

The Red Bulls had fallen behind in the academy world, necessitating proactive change from an organization that constantly touted itself as the best development pyramid in the country. Competition for talent is increasing, with players able to move to clubs all over the world and no longer restricted to their immediate area. McCafferty and Brooks are making the expected upgrades to return to the top tier, but further innovation will be required to stay there.

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The turf management students at Sussex County Community College will be learning from the best of the best. Starting with the Fall 2021 semester, Red Bulls Training Facility manager Zach Holm will introduce “an introductory class on turf management” at the New Jersey school. The program will eventually “expand to more advanced and specialized courses next spring and beyond.”

Holm believes learning the science of turf grass and soil testing will improve both the institution and the lives of its students. “I think the turf industry as a whole has done a poor job at marketing,” he told the New Jersey Herald. “If you could tell high school soccer players that they could be a part of a team, turf management is a legit opportunity to do so… In order to get a degree, they have to stay. When they’re part of a team, and a winning team that wins championships, they stay.”

While I cannot confess to know thing one or thing two about the industry, Holm appears to be at or near the top of it. The Red Bulls Academy Field was named 2020 Field of the Year by the Sports Turf Managers Association. Sussex, with a growing athletic department and recently established football team, is in a unique position to benefit from his expertise.

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Some news from Red Bull land. Reports in Austria and Germany indicate Salzburg sporting director Christoph Freund is a candidate for the same position at Eintracht Frankfurt. However, the likelihood of a move is offset by his 15-year tenure with the Austrian club and a current contract that lasts until 2023.

Would his leaving the organization have any impact on New York? Freund is a “long-term companion” of manager Gerhard Struber dating back to their playing days, a working relationship that has possibly led to more simultaneous loans from Salzburg than ever before: two. A change in leadership would alter the synergy between the two teams, whether it is the tenor of conversations or something more significant in a positive or negative direction.

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Transfer rumors of a return to MLS be damned, there are still matches to play in the Belgian First Division A.

Kemar Lawrence scored the eventual game-winning goal in Anderlecht’s 3-1 win over Standard Liège. The deflected 71st minute volley is his first goal for the Purple & White. Former Red Bulls Matt Miazga and Amir Murillo also started on the fifth-place club’s back line.

“We needed those three points, so it’s really good for us,” Lawrence said after the final whistle. “The staff has put everything in place for this… I didn’t celebrate my goal, I stayed cool. The match was not over, but I’m very happy to have scored this goal.”

Opponents are surely trembling at the prospect of the Jamaican international adding scoring prowess to his already stocked arsenal of footballing abilities. According to manager Vincent Kompany, Lawrence lives on the edge. “When I tell him to kick more, he’ll look at me weird, I think,” said the Belgian legend. “Kemar is a player who does almost everything on instinct. I can’t order him to kick more. He decides to create a moment for himself, but he is someone who pushes everyone.”

His enthusiasm “carries the team,” which is surely a quality that would benefit any club.

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The Red Bulls face competition at the youth level, not just from domestic clubs. As explained by Eurosport, New York City is becoming a battleground for European academies. The French Football Federation opened up a school in July of 2019 with the goal of “exporting the excellence of the French-style training system, by training players but also coaches.”

With the United States regularly producing talent, overseas groups are becoming more interested in extracting players and building the brand. “If your name is Barcelona or PSG, you are not going to try to develop your brand in Europe,” said former PSG Academy in New York head and current director of the FFF Academy in New York Zohair Ghenania. “When a six-year-old plays football in New York with a PSG jersey on his back, he will remain a fan of the club 40 years later.”

I know what he means. When I was a kid, I was a fan of firetrucks. As an adult, my wife dates a fireman.

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Ralf Rangnick remains ever in demand for interviews and quotes. Facing criticism for playing, he credits the Deutsche Fußball Liga for continuing and “developing an excellent hygiene concept.” The Red Bull architect believes sport has served an important role during the pandemic.

“Professional football has a certain positive effect and function on society,” Rangnick shared recently. “And now I’m not talking about myself as a fan and someone who has worked there, but simply because I think there are many people at this time that it helps that you can watch football on television… I think many people would be missing something if these games didn’t exist.”

Rangnick remains a free agent, but is coy about his future club. He admits there have been “a few conversations” and does not want to reveal any details. Perhaps the soon-to-be-open Borussia Mönchengladbach manager position is a tempting landing spot.

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AD Alcorcón is experiencing the same crisis shared by clubs across the world: “Hey, should we play that Fidel Escobar guy we signed?”

The Panama international has struggled to receive regular playing time, but is finally on a good run of form at the second-division side. He’s playing more of a midfield role this season and serving as “a link to the most imaginative players” in the formation. As he’s improved, so has Alcorcón’s place in the table. While still threatened by relegation, Los Alfareros (The Potters) are slowly climbing out of the depths.

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Do you hear your significant other hurriedly typing on a keyboard? They’re desperately searching the internet for the Unionistas de Salamanca CF team shop. Why is this person showing more passion in the last minute than they’ve shown for you in five years?

According to 12 Minutos, the Segunda División B outfit is looking to sign Armando Lozano. Facing an injury crisis, the club has identified the 36-year-old quasi-retired center back as an option. Currently on pace for the promotion fight (Spain’s league system defies brevity), he would be stepping into a situation in which his play could have a genuine impact on the Unionistas’ fortunes.

Although Armando has not played since 2018 with Salamanca CF UDS, perhaps the chance for one last run at glory will entice him back to the field. “Never stop being honest and humble,” he recently shared on Instagram. “Life takes many turns.”

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When Peguy Luyindula was appointed sporting director of Dijon FCO, the job was known to be one of the most difficult in Ligue 1. The club has largely hung onto a place in the top division by its fingernails since securing promotion in 2016. Although the former Red Bull was let go in November, less than a year into his tenure, President Olivier Delcourt does not have any hard feelings.

“I trusted people, who are good people, but who did not necessarily have the experience of a Ligue 1 club,” he told Le Parisien. “Peguy, I appreciate him a lot. But the observation is relentless: it did not work. Beyond him, it’s been two or three years since we made mistakes in recruiting. We must raise our level in this area.”

Since Luyindula’s departure, Dijon has soared up the table, freed from the bonds of his decision-making. I’m just kidding. They’re still dead last.

Here’s a joke that was submitted by Cornelia of Piscataway.

I haven’t seen a Dijon that bad since the refreshments table at my granddaughter’s christening.

Thank you, Cornelia. Was it the version produced by the Whole Foods 365 brand? That one tends to have a lot of vinegar, just like you.

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