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Red Bulls Expert Guide: September 20, 2021

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Jesse’s messy start in Leipzig continues, Kaku goes to battle in the street rather than the courtroom, and Vincent Bezecourt has his eyes on Japan in this week’s links

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MLS: New York Red Bulls at New York City FC
Kaku, seen here scrapping with Anton Tinnerholm in 2018, got into a minor scuffle with rival fans in Saudi Arabia last week.
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

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

I’m always curious about the audience for these posts. I would like to learn more about the readers. If you’re consuming the Expert Guide, please leave a comment with your name, age, location, elementary school, first pet’s name, and mother’s maiden name. I’m putting together a study and really need this information. Thanks in advance.

Here’s this week’s top story.

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KVC Westerlo continues the promotion push, settling for a 2-2 with third-place K.M.S.K. Deinze. David Jensen started and had an average day at the office. On the first goal, he made a save but perhaps could have steered the rebound into a better area. The second was from a somewhat close range to the near post, which is either understandable or the worst thing to allow depending on who is being asked.

The Big Dane appears to be enjoying his time in Belgium. “I’m especially impressed with the way we’ve played so far,” Jensen told Het Laatste Nieuws prior to the match. “There is a clear game plan, and that is already reflected on the field. We need to build on this in the coming weeks and months. I think it will be very important not to be satisfied too quickly. We have to stay hungry.”

While the 29-year-old doesn’t share the details of his Spartan diet, he is providing a lift to the second-division club with a winning personality. Jensen likes to “radiate calm and confidence on the field,” letting teammates know “they can count on [him].” That charitable offer doesn’t seem to have a warranty, so perhaps it includes tire changing and babysitting.

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The turmoil continues in Germany.

Jesse Marsch is struggling to implement his strategy, causing some alleged issues with RB Leipzig. According to Bild, “some leading players would like more elements of [Julian] Nagelsmann’s ball possession football from the previous season.” However, writer Robert Schreier includes the caveat that this is dependent on the new tactics continuing to “not bear fruit.”

There is also an accusation of the manager playing favorites despite “emphasizing that team spirit is his top priority.” Midfielder Tyler Adams is named as one of the preferred players. Roster turnover and changing roles could be viewed as fairly standard with a regime change, so perhaps not as valid a criticism as more tactical-based discourse.

Bild points to the vacant sporting director position as a greater issue. The global head of sport role also remains open. Structural deficit tends to be ignored when winning, so perhaps a few victories will turn down the volume, allowing for some work to be done on the training pitch and in the boardroom.

The recent 1-1 draw with FC Köln failed to quiet the criticism, especially since the loss was only divinely prevented by opposing midfielder Ondrej Duda missing “an open goal.” Ever the savvy orator, Marsch described “expectations” as having “funny effects” on his team, like a bout of food poisoning but for the brain. As is becoming a cottage industry for most media outlets, DW offered some explanations for the slow start, pointing at the “tactical reset” that was already proven to be “one-dimensional and physically unsustainable” when attempting to compete “on multiple fronts.”

Writer Christoph Biermann provided some additional historical context for the current run of form. “Patience has not been particularly tested in Leipzig in recent years,” commented the editor-in-chief of 11 Freunde. “Things have always been looking up. In terms of football, there’s a clear step backwards for me so far. [They] play a hectic, disorderly football.”

Hertha Berlin is waiting on Saturday. There are no reinforcements on the way. Marsch is going to need a lot of marshmallows, chocolate bars, and graham crackers to fix this mess – if it’s a mess at all or the difficult first chapter of a soaring, triumphant novel.

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Things are not going well at Al-Taawoun, not well at all. The Wolves lost another match, this time to rivals Al-Raed in the Qasim Derby by a 5-3 margin. Now at 15th in the 16-team table, relegation could be a possibility, although it is early days. Despite occupying a relegation spot, the season is still in its early days.

As for Kaku, well, it was the aftermath that generated the most headlines. Post-match, while getting into his car, the Argentine-Paraguayan was approached by fans of the opposing club. The situation is alleged to have become tense when a person took a picture holding up five fingers to indicate the score. A video of the incident spread on social media, although the minor chaos appears to have been contained.

My general rule for things like this is that if more footage existed, we would have seen it.

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Stop me if you’ve heard this before: Frank Rost is angry.

The former Red Bulls goalkeeper is not pleased with his former clubs, Werder Bremen and Hamburger SV. The two competed in last weekend’s Nordderby, only the match occurred within the less regarded confines of the second tier. Rost noted the disappointing fall from grace with his trademark bluntness.

“I’m following it emotionlessly,” the 48-year-old said prior to the match, speaking mostly of Hamburg. “It’s actually tragic because you used to put so much so much heart and soul into it. It’s going to be damn hard to get out of [the second division]. Maybe at some point [HSV] will go one [league] lower. I wouldn’t rule it out…. [The club] indulged in memories of glorious times, so the crash was only logical.”

The match ended in a 2-0 win for Hamburg. Prior to joining the Red Bulls, Rost had a long career in the Bundesliga. In addition to these two clubs, he also spent several seasons at Schalke… which was also relegated last season.

Perhaps we should pool our money and get him a card. That would be nice. Does Hallmark have a “Sorry all of your former teams were relegated” collection?

***

Western Sydney Wanderers endured a bit of an odd season. Things started well but a long winless streak deflated any hopes of success as the club missed the playoffs. Manager Carl Robinson expressed his dismay but has hopes for the future.

“It was disappointing,” he told ESPN. “I’m not papering over that. I believe we could have got there. I think we should have got there. ON reflection, we dropped too many points and we were a little bit too inconsistent and that’s what I had to find the answers to.”

Robinson preaches squad building, hoping to take Western Sydney in a “different direction” focused on youth and domestic talent. The next season, set to begin in October, could have increased difficulties. Due to COVID outbreaks, certain players have been “locked out” of training.

Apropos of nothing, did you know that Robinson was reported as a candidate for the vacant Wolverhampton Wanderers head coaching position in 2013? Did you know that Kevin Thelwell ran that recruitment process? Dear reader, you and I are just a couple of mates at the pub, discussing the fascinating interconnectivity of the football world as crisp crumbs cascade out of our mouths.

***

The previous Armenian Premier League season might have ended in a title for FC Alashkert, but things are not great right now. The Yellows are at ninth place in the table, winless in four fixtures. [There was a match this morning at 8 a.m. against Noravank, so this is not quite accurate. Please send all specific and general criticism to @corkinho on Twitter.] Champions and Europa League qualifying campaigns ended in failure, and the first group play match of the Conference League ended in a 4-1 defeat to Maccabi Tel Aviv.

Former Red Bull Vincent Bezecourt (or “Վինսենթ Բեզեկուր” as he’s known in Armenia) did manage an assist in the most recent continental match. So that’s something. Transfermarkt says his current deal expires in December, after which perhaps the 28-year-old can pursue his dream of playing in Japan.

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Former academy defender Ty Walker has joined FC Kaiserslautern. He will start with the U-19 side. Die roten Teufel (The Red Devils) are at 16th place in the German third tier, one point above the relegation zone.

Walker is from North Carolina and spent time training with the USL reserve team. After signing for the University of Portland, he opted to pursue a professional career. After leaving the Red Bulls, the 6’4” center back joined the International Soccer Academy, a program that offers “a comprehensive, player-centric solution complete with Visa assistance” while training in Spain and Germany.

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Here’s a story that was submitted to the guide by Once a Metro West Coast editor-at-large Juan Mesa, to whom I was rude when receiving this information and sincerely apologize.

Former defender Kosuke Kimura is climbing his way up the coaching ladder. The 37-year-old ended his career at Nashville SC in 2019, serving as player-coach while the club was still in the second tier. Now he’s with the academy and tasked with leading the inaugural U-13 squad. The youth will surely benefit from his deep knowledge base, acquired from stops across USL, MLS, NASL, and the Polish I liga.

Here’s a joke that was submitted by Maeve of Scotch Plains.

Nashville SC is okay. My favorite team is Atlético Crosby-Stills-Youngstown.

Thank you, Maeve. You’re a hoot and a half.

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Do you have a story connected to the New York Red Bulls 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.