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Red Bulls Expert Guide: May 10, 2021

Check out interviews with Gerhard Struber, Fábio, and Cristian Cásseres as well as multiple fronts of rumors in Uganda this week

MLS: Toronto FC at New York Red Bulls
Assist-happy striker Fábio sounds thrilled with his situation in New York
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

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

I was on vacation in central Pennsylvania last week and had the pleasure of meeting several readers of Once a Metro. They were such a lovely bunch, telling me how they enjoy all of these stories culled from across the internet. I may not be a good employee, son, or much of anything to anybody, but at least I was able to make a few people happy. Their real compliments from that not imagined conversation will stay with me for the rest of my life.

Here’s this week’s top story.

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Don’t know if this was reported anywhere, but presumably the Red Bulls did not qualify for the 2021 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. According to some U.S. Soccer press release from a few weeks ago, the top-eight American MLS teams through the first three weeks of the season will enter the tournament. With one point per game from three matches, New York finished 16th in that table.

The Red Bulls were also not admitted to this year’s edition of the Leagues Cup, probably to the chagrin of somebody. While the loss of potential fixtures is disappointing for a young, developing roster, this leaves the possibility to embrace one of the great American soccer traditions: obscene summer friendlies of questionable value. I hope the open calendar dates are filled with a wide variety of interesting opponents, from Arsenal FC to FC Karpaty-3.

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Manager Gerhard Struber took the time to speak with The Sun, discussing his journey and all sorts of fun things happening in New York. Preaching an ethos of “patience,” the Austrian manager believes the club will be “very successful in the next few years.” He also shared his opinion on the club’s pursuit of English players.

“In England, you must be a top talent to have the chance to get game time with a club like Southampton or Liverpool or Manchester City,” said Struber. “It’s not so easy. But the MLS can be a very good first step in a big professional career. It gives young players a good platform. We can develop young players in a modern direction where they have a big market in the future… we have the fantasy that they can play in the top leagues in Europe. That is the Red Bull way.”

Struber also has a desire to eventually return to England, hoping to work in the Premier League. The man is a mere 44 years old with plenty of time to coach in a variety of exotic locales. And if Frank de Boer can do it, well, you know the rest.

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Al-Taawoun returned, defeating Al Ahli Saudi FC in a wild 4-2 fixture. Some guy named Alejandro Sebastián Romero Gamarra scored, converting a penalty in the 54th minute. The Once and Future Red Bull has seven goals in 11 total matches since moving to Saudi Arabia.

The Wolves will face off against Al-Raed on Saturday, May 15th.

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Kampala Capital City Authority Football Club advanced to the quarterfinals of the Uganda Cup with a 3-0 victory (5-0 aggregate) over Maroons FC. Steven Sserwadda scored the match’s second goal and was active throughout the match. There has been no update on a potential transfer to the Red Bulls.

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Your new favorite player is Fábio. This isn’t a discussion or a debate. The 23-year-old Brazilian striker on loan from Oeste is having a great time in MLS, feeling settled at the club despite only having recently joined.

“Arriving now and having visibility like this is incredible,” said the São Paulo native. “I was looking forward to being able to prove to everyone in the club that they could trust me and, little by little, I will confirm this more and more. The whole team is very close and they have been supporting me from the start, on and off the field. This has helped me to feel comfortable and to be able to show my football [and] that matches like this can always be repeated.”

Fábio’s loan lasts through June of 2021 and there is an option to purchase. Will the club trigger the deal? After a few more performances like the one against Toronto FC, they might have to.

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With two goals this season, one of the Red Bulls’ hottest attacking talents is… Cristian Cásseres Jr.? Yes, as we all expected, the Venezuelan international has become a new player under the team’s new tactics. He appeared on Episode 14 of La REVELACIÓN VINOTINTO to discuss his international and professional career. The 21-year-old is quite complimentary of the club, both old and new, noting the work put in by Chris Armas to help make his game more complete.

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How close is Omar Sowe to a call-up to the first team? Last year, the 20-year-old native of The Gambia scored seven goals in 14 USL Championship matches. Buried in a profile by The Observer, manager John Wolyniec shares that the reserve attacker could be an MLS player in the near future.

“I certainly think there’s a possibility,” said the former MetroStar and Red Bull. “I think he’s close. I hesitate to put a time frame on his development and, of course, things change in pro soccer. He’s had some bumps in the road, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he played in the MLS.”

There you have it. Sowe is close to MLS, but things could change. Be sure to click the link and read the full interview.

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Do you want a Sead Hakšabanović update? No, you don’t? Look, I don’t care because you’re getting one anyway and you’re going to say thank you.

The Swedish-Montenegrin playmaker’s eventual summer transfer will likely be “one of the Allsvenskan’s biggest deals ever.” According to FotbollDirekt, at least three Champions League participants are set to place bids in excess of 50 million Swedish kroner (a touch below $5,900,000). No new offers have been made, but at least eight clubs have scouted him in recent weeks.

Congratulations to IFK Norrköping for staying the course and trusting that higher bids would come. The Red Bulls may have missed out on a good one, but that’s the nature of the transfer market. Am I forgetting anything? Oh, that’s right. Are you going to say it?

No, and honestly I really don’t need any more updates on this guy.

Well, that’s too bad.

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Anderlecht is preparing for a busy summer. Kemar Lawrence already moved to Toronto, Matt Miazga might not stay in Belgium, and the transfer birds [Sure.] are circling Amir Murillo. According to FootNews.be, the Panamanian fullback “could also leave” this summer. There were a few rumors over the past year, but he opted to sign a contract extension through June of 2025.

No potential destinations have surfaced, but surely New York will be one of them!

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With his 31st goal, one-time Red Bulls transfer target Ivan Toney broke the single-season scoring record for the English second division. Is that good? He also has ten assists. Can somebody please tell me if this is good?

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Former Red Bulls Academy coach Johnathan McKinstry is on the hunt for new employment. The Federation of the Uganda Football Association parted ways with the 35-year-old Northern Irishman, after the senior national team failed to reach the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations finals. In 18 months, he led the Cranes to a record of 12 wins, three draws, and three losses. Under his tenure, the country claimed the 2019 Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup.

Since leaving the Red Bulls, McKinstry has led quite the coaching odyssey. He’s made stops in Sierra Leone, Rwanda, Lithuania, Bangladesh, among a host of other passport stamps. One imagines this will not be a long period of unemployment.

With the 2022 World Cup drawing closer, FUFA has yet to hire a replacement, which might be of some minor interest to Red Bulls fans. I’m, of course, not suggesting anything due to a lack of sources in Eastern Africa or anywhere. However, do not be surprised if the name of legendary Crane Ibrahim Sekagya surfaces in some meaningful way. The New York Red Bulls II coach was connected to the head coaching position in 2017, having previously served as an assistant during qualifiers.

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As day one readers know, the Weekly News Bul-… the Red Bulls Rou-… the Expert Guide was built on the shoulders of one man: Jean-Claude Billong.

The former Red Bulls U-23 center back is currently thriving on loan at Hatayspor. He’s made 26 appearances in the Turkish Süper Lig, leading the recently promoted club to seventh in the table. Success at the professional level has manifested an international opportunity.

The 27-year-old has the opportunity to make his national team debut. Billong was recently named to the 36-player list in advance of Cameroon’s 2022 World Cup qualifiers against Mozambique and Malawi scheduled for June. Born in Paris, France, the towering defender has really been on the rise over the past year, having overcome whatever drama befell him at Unione Sportiva Salernitana 1919 S.r.l. in Serie B.

Here’s a joke that was submitted by Cordelia of Roxbury.

After retiring from soccer, he should take up surfing and change his name to Jean-Claude Billabong.

Thank you, Cordelia. I’m sure he’ll consider that potentially lucrative avenue.

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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.