clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Red Bulls Expert Guide: July 26, 2021

Fábio discusses turning down European offers, Bouna Time starts at NISA level, and the tracks get laid down for a sibling club in Romania in this week’s links

New York Red Bulls v Kansas City Wizards
Former Red Bulls goalkeeper Bouna Coundoul has a new gig.
Photo by G. Newman Lowrance/Getty Images

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

Sometimes people will be bothered because they came up with a good idea too late, forgot what it was, or realized it was already successful elsewhere. Instead of mourning, take solace that you have the capacity for such higher thought. If you could do it once, you can do it again. There will be another.

Here’s this week’s top story.

***

The reported Amro Tarek move to Cyprus appears to be off.

Terming negotiations a “shipwreck,” Elias Poniros of Protathlima writes that the acquisition will not be happening. Due to the injury crisis to the back line, the Red Bulls “decided not to turn on the green light for the transfer.” Apollon Limassol will look elsewhere for a defender.

***

One of the shrewdest MLS transfers has been the acquisition of Fábio. The Brazilian striker has two goals and five assists in 12 appearances, a fantastic return considering he is still on loan. The official Red Bull website spoke with him, discussing everything from day-to-day life and the transfer process.

“My English is still bad,” said Fábio. “In training and in games, I used to say ‘ball’ in practically every situation. They understand what I want. Off the field, I make myself understood with mimes… I do a lot of things alone, here in the United States: I go to the market, to the mall, to the auto repair shop.”

While enjoying solitude, the move to New York was based on the desire to live a more peaceful life with his family. “I had six, seven proposals on the table, including from European clubs, then came the possibility of playing for the New York Red Bulls,” he revealed. “I sat down with my wife, [and] we thought and decided to accept. Honestly, I didn’t imagine playing here so soon, but it’s good. I’m happy.”

There’s more in the interview, including his assessment of MLS and his on-field adaptation. Feel free to spool through.

***

One-time rumored Red Bulls transfer target Eric Kahl is moving to a new club. The Thai-Swedish fullback is departing AIK and headed to... AGF Aarhus? The world is a small place, with Mathias Jørgensen recently departing the Danish Superliga outfit.

Negotiations were reported by our old friend, Daniel “Disco” Kristoffersson of Expressen. The deal was “in principle complete” and the two clubs “have agreed on a transfer fee.” All that remained were personal terms and a routine medical examination, both of which appear to have been handled. The end result is a five-year contract.

The Red Bulls were said to have made a $600,000 transfer offer in the winter, a bid that was described as “shameful.” At the time, AIK was said to value Kahl at $2,400,000. AGF appears to have paid a bit more. The reported fee is 15 million Swedish kroner, “which is equivalent to 11 million Danish kroner” or a little over 1,700,000 American dollars.

A few months ago, AGF opted to not exercise the reported $800,000 purchase clause on Jørgensen. The club found a slightly different use for the transfer budget. Meanwhile, the Red Bulls seem to be doing okay with that John Tolkin fellow at left back.

***

Is Red Bull heading to The Land of Dracula?

According to a local report, the energy drink giant wants to open up shop in Romania. “An Austrian-Swiss consortium, which is also linked to Red Bull America, will be heavily involved in Liga 1 with a football team,” said ASA Târgu Mures president Daniel Stanciu on Digi Sport Special. Speculation has pointed to Rapid București or CFR Cluj as the intended targets.

Interestingly enough, the Transylvania region – where the latter club is located – used to be controlled by Austria, but I’m sure that wouldn’t come up during negotiations.

***

Remember those rumors about Zlatko Junuzović heading to New York? Reports out of Austrian claimed the existence of “internal consultations” to bring him to MLS. However, Kristian Dyer rubbished the rumor, stating that the 33-year-old Austrian midfielder is not joining the squad “this year.”

Somehow, the story surfaced again, being discussed on Sky Sports Austria 1. “This is currently not an issue,” said Salzburg sporting director Christoph Freund. “He feels really comfortable with us.”

Junuzović has started and played 90 minutes for Salzburg this season, contributing three assists. Age and the physical demands of the tactical system appear to not be an issue, as he remains a key part of the squad. The language of Dyer’s past report and Freund’s seemingly out of nowhere comments do seem to point in a certain direction. Perhaps we should stay tuned, but perhaps we shouldn’t.

***

A favorite player of Gerhard Struber appears to be available.

New Barnsley manager Markus Schopp is “undecided” on the status of Marcel Ritzmaier, according to the Barnsley Chronicle. The 28-year-old midfielder has one year left on his contract and recently returned to England after a loan to Rapid Wien. He was set to stay in the Austrian Bundesliga before the recent coaching change at the Championship club that saw Valérien Ismaël. So far, his substitute performance in friendlies has been pleasing but unconvincing.

“Marcel had, two years ago, a really good season in Austria,” said Schopp. “He did really, really [well]. It’s all about the formation we will choose, which is a discussion at the moment. A player like him has to play and, if he does not play, he is not happy. He is an experienced player but I need to figure out if he can fit into our ideas. I need to figure out if he can give us much more than he gave us so far.”

Ritzmaier was an entrenched member of the AC Wolfsberger squad when Struber arrived in the summer of 2019. The club achieved a lot in a short period of time, pulling off a few shock results in the Europa League. When the manager left for Barnsley that November, he wasted little time and acquired the midfielder for a “six-figure fee” in the next window, the first signing of his brief tenure.

Ritzmaier made 22 total appearances for Barnsley, helping the club avoid relegation. However, once Struber moved to the Red Bulls, his favored player was sent to Austria on a season-long loan. With Rapid Wien last season, he played in 30 matches, contributing five goals and four assists.

Naturally, there have been some online whispers that Ritzmaier will follow his former manager to MLS and trip the life fantastique in New York. While the Red Bulls midfielder depth chart could surely use another player, in this case a decent and experienced veteran midfielder, the move does not make sense in the current context. The general lack of signings appears to be intentional or, at least, influenced by salary cap and international roster slot issues.

On that same probably-not-going-to-happen-but-maybe-next-year note, consider left back Michael Lecher. The 25-year-old former Austrian youth international recently finished his first season at SV Ried, but the club delayed in activating a contract extension. He received reported overseas interest, most notably from Erzgebirge Aue in the German second division. While the option year was eventually picked up, do not be shocked if the defender eventually makes his way to MLS, whether in person or merely in the foreign media.

Why is that, you ask? Well, Lercher spent 2017 through 2020 at the now-defunct SV Mattersburg, which happens to be the former club of assistant coach Bernd Eibler. Soccer is a game of connections, and there is no better transfer market referral than having actually worked with a player on a day-to-day basis.

***

KVC Westerlo notched a 1-0 friendly victory over Greek club OFI Crete. Goalkeeper David Jensen was subbed into the match at the start of the second half, apparently in a real battle for the starting position with Koen Van Langendonck. He faced a “good chance” in the 61st minute but “was alert and clamped the ball well.”

***

Goalkeeper coach Jyri Nieminen appeared on The Football Pod to discuss his career journey and his work with the Red Bulls. He admits to struggling to get the most out of statistical data and analytics, identifying it as an area for improvement. The 33-year-old claims to have “found [no] use” from expected goals, a welcome crusader against the people attempting to turn the sport into a paper game. His favorite number to look at is how many opponents are beaten with passes, which is understandable considering the team’s vertical playing style.

Anyway, give the whole episode a listen because it’s fairly interesting.

***

With the Copa América concluded, players return to their clubs a little older, wiser, and more experienced.

Kaku joined up with Al-Taawoun, heading to the town of Mierlo in the Netherlands for preseason camp which includes four friendlies. The club plays Anderlecht in the first scrimmage. The Saudi Premier League resumes play next month.

He also apologized for his halftime shirt swap with Lionel Messi, a move that drew some outrage from fans. “It was not my intention to make anyone angry,” Kaku told 780AM. “Messi is an idol. We know he is the best in the world, and I do not know if I will face him again later, that’s why I made the decision. We know everything that he has given to football and how great he is in history. I apologize if someone got angry.”

Those were the only Kaku stories last week. Nothing else happened.

***

Everyone loves the television show Ted Lasso. Wherever you go, people can’t shut up about that lovable fictional soccer coach marketing vehicle and character played by Jason Sudeikis. In fact, the Los Angeles Times even asked former Red Bull Sacha Kljestan which real-life manager is most similar.

Jesse Marsch has that positivity about him,” said the one-time captain. “Not as corny, but when I watched that, I thought about Jesse. He makes everybody believe in what they’re doing and gets everybody to buy in.”

Last year, Marsch was referred to as someone who “certainly isn’t a Ted Lasso’’ by The Guardian, so I’ll wait for a third opinion before making a final judgment. That won’t take long because there is almost too much discourse surrounding this streaming series that in reality isn’t actually that popular due to the relatively limited reach of Apple TV+. If a show fails to reach Gerhard Struber in his forest, does it make a sound?

***

Former academy player Brian Saramago has a new club. First reported domestically by Michael Lewis of Front Row Soccer, the 22-year-old attacker moved to NK Rudar Velenje of the Slovenian Second League. He was most recently with the Long Island Rough Riders in USL League Two, after four years at Loyola University (Maryland). His youth career included call-ups to Red Bulls II and the U-23s.

***

Former Red Bull winger Josh Sims is not training with Portsmouth. After being released by Southampton, the 24-year-old has been linked to the Blues but was not present during a five-day training jaunt at St. George’s Park. The club remains hopeful for his addition, although there is also some rumored interest from Charlton Athletic.

Did you know that Queen Elizabeth I was fluent in six languages by the age of 11? I feel like you should get something out of the post for reading this far.

***

No need to check your watch. It’s Bouna Time once again.

Former Red Bulls goalkeeper Bouna Coundoul has been hired as the head coach of New Amsterdam FC. The National Independent Soccer Association club is set to compete in the Fall 2021 season. “I will give my best to the team, and I will always do what is best for the organization,” said the 39-year-old.

A few weeks ago, New Amsterdam released an eye-grabbing jersey. In a promotion effort, the club elected to publish “fck the sugar laden energy drinks!” on social media platform Twitter. That is, of course, an interesting opinion considering the now-manager played for the Red Bulls and the primary team owner, Laurence Girard, was a member of the academy.

We all wear masks, metaphorically speaking. That’s a line from The Mask.

***

The Red Bull investment in Brazil could be changing, possibly for the better… or the worse. I’m really not sure how business works.

For the past months, there have been discussions of some of the top clubs in the Campeonato Brasileiro Série A breaking away to “form their own competition.” There is reported frustration with how the Brazilian Football Federation has run the league, particularly with match conditions and scheduling. The recent Copa América appears to have pushed proceedings to a breaking point.

The clubs listened to “pitches from groups, domestic and international, eager to play a part in the new championship.” Hedge funds and various investment groups are circling, seeing the broadcasting potential of what is perhaps the Western Hemisphere’s best soccer league. One group features Charlie Stillitano of Relevent Sports, the first general manager in MetroStars history.

What does all of this mean for Red Bull Bragantino, currently at fourth place in Série A? That is a good question. Let me know if you find out.

***

Are you in the Norwegian city of Tønsberg on the Oslofjord inlet and looking to party? Look no further than Tropical Tuesday at the delightful Foynhagen concert venue, a “green little gem by the water.” Enjoy the DJ duo of BROILER and Jan Gunnar Solli as they rock the turntables and thump the bass. Doors open at 8:00 p.m. for tapas.

Unfortunately, the Tom Jones concert has been postponed until 2022.

Here’s a joke that was submitted by Gilda of Perth Amboy.

There is no way I’m going to Norway!

Thank you, Gilda. You should reconsider. I have never been but heard the country is lovely.

***

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.