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Red Bulls Expert Guide: September 6, 2021

Gerhard Struber linked to Watford, Stoke prepares for the return of Tom Edwards, and Patryk Klimala gets celebrity treatment in this week’s links

SOCCER: JUL 08 MLS - Philadelphia Union at New York Red Bulls
Stoke observers seem excited by the possibility of Tom Edwards returning after his New York loan.
Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Once A Metro Red Bulls Expert Guide: September 6, 2021

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

This weekly post is produced with a specific audience in mind. Whenever I put metaphor quill to metaphorical parchment, the thought is always, “How will the ladies, fellas, people who don’t give a f***, lovers, haters, people that call themselves players, hot mommas, pimp daddies, people rolling up in Caddies, rockers, hip-hoppers, and everybody all around the world react to what I’m writing?’’ Golly, I hope they like me.

Here’s this week’s top story.

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We have an update on one of the court cases involving Alejandro “Kaku” Gamarra.

According to Bloomberg Law, the District Court for the Southern District of New York upheld the arbitrator Shyam Das’ ruling, confirming “in its entirety” that the New York Red Bulls’ contract extension was and is valid. The player is determined to have “breached his agreement with MLS by signing with and playing for Saudi Arabian club Al-Taawoun FC.” The option notice was delivered and valid, despite this handoff not occurring at his home address.

This respondent in this case is the Major League Soccer Players Association “on behalf of Kaku,” which maintains a right to appeal the decision. The second legal case, a $6 million lawsuit (Major League Soccer, L.L.C. et al v. Pearson et al), continues to be tried in the New Jersey District Court. The most recent actions were typical pre-trial actions involving time extensions and various other filings.

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The hottest seat in the English Premier League might be at Watford. Manager Xisco was hired in December of 2020 and led the team to promotion out of the EFL Championship. However, consecutive losses to Brighton and Tottenham may have owner Gino Pozzo dreaming of a replacement.

Those lovable bookmakers certainly have some managers in mind. According to Betfair, the favorite to replace Xisco is none other than Gerhard Struber. The Austrian is receiving 3/1 odds, slightly edging out John Terry at 5/1 and Eddie Howe with 6/1.

Watford previously approached Struber in the summer of 2020, fresh off Barnsley’s magical escape from relegation. According to The Athletic, he was “interested in the position” while also receiving attention from “an unnamed club in the Championship and two in the Eredivisie.” There was also that recent reported flirtation with Werder Bremen which went nowhere.

Do I think Struber is leaving the Red Bulls? That does not seem logical at this point in time, although one never knows. The club hired a well-regarded, in-demand manager in a sport where job changes are frequent, so the rumors are likely to continue until his eventual departure. Major League Soccer is the outlier, a league of long tenures and occasional drain circling.

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With the season slowly slipping away, perhaps the time has come to consider a few of the existing loans.

The contract of Tom Edwards is said to not contain an option to buy (“Coppin’ a 5 or a Benz”), so he would theoretically depart for Stoke City. Due to a severe lack of depth at the position, his parent club elected to sign right back Demeaco Duhaney. According to the Stoke Sentinel, the 22-year-old former England youth international will receive “a chance to impress over the next two or three months” before the return of the prodigal son in January.

Former Stoke goalkeeper Mike Pejic notes that Edwards had “shown glimpses of his potential before his development seemed to stall.” Perhaps Stoke will appreciate his growth as a versatile defender and leader. On the other hand, there may not be room in the match day roster come January, which could open the possibility for more time with New York.

As always, things remain up in the air but worth occasional monitoring.

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KVC Westerlo took on third-division side RFC Liège in the fifth round of the Belgian Cup. Goalkeeper David Jensen was held out of the lineup in favor of back-up Koen van Langendonck. De Kemphanen (The Ruffs) advanced in the competition with a 3-1 victory and will now face off against a yet-to-be-determined opponent sometime in the range of late October.

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Let’s check in on some former players. That’s always fun.

Remember Josh Sims? The English winger played for the Red Bulls for the latter half of the 2019 season and the barely existent first half of 2020. Now out of contract from Southampton, he was reportedly close to signing with Portsmouth and Sheffield Wednesday but remains a free agent.

That’s kind of boring. Let’s check in with someone else.

What’s Marc Rzatkowski been doing lately? The 31-year-old was with New York for three seasons after moving over from Salzburg. He is… also a free agent and has not played since departing MLS last winter.

Far be it from me to make sweeping generalizations about professional sports, but the Red Bulls signing players who sort of drift and pass out of the sport after departing the club might be a slightly concerning pattern.

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A former player that did find his way to a new club is Andreas Ivan. The 26-year-old recently departed from Sonnenhof Großaspach, terminating his contract on the last day of the transfer window following relegation from the third division. Now he has landed at Rot Weiss Ahlen in the Regionalliga West, looking to “intensify the offense” on a one-year deal.

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Alarm bells are probably ringing for Keşlə FK. If they’re not, they should be.

Despite starting the season with four straight losses in the Premyer Liqası and Europa Conference League qualifiers, things are going kind of okay for Anatole Abang. The former Red Bull scored a goal in a recent 2-1 defeat to Qəbələ FK. Not to sell his effort short, but it was an absolutely fantastic finish.

Skip ahead to around 5:45 and enjoy.

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Here’s a story that was submitted to the guide by recently promoted Once a Metro West Coast editor-at-large Juan Mesa.

Former Homegrown goalkeeper Santiago Castaño has re-launched his professional career after a bit of a layoff. This summer, the 26-year-old signed with Deportivo Pereira of the Colombian Categoría Primera A. He is currently the back-up, but has led the club to the quarterfinals of the Copa Colombia with three shutouts in four matches. For his latest efforts, a 2-0 win over Junior F.C., the club named him “Player of the Match.”

In the league, Deportivo Pereira is in a desperate fight to avoid relegation, currently in the drop zone. There are 13 matches remaining, which is theoretically enough time to leap over Deportes Quindío, although time is a-ticking. Thankfully, the club has a stellar goalkeeper in Castaño to aid the cause.

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I have great news! Jan Gunnar Solli has joined a Wednesday night men’s league in Norway. The former Red Bull is playing with Bærumsløkka FK in the “Oldboys” division (Men’s Over 33 league with understandable 30-minute halves). His debut came against Kjelsås in front of two spectators: Stig Jørgensen and the mother of Thomas Wæhler. The team is fairly experienced, having notched over 1,000 combined Eliteserien appearances.

Not only did he debut, but Solli managed to score the insurance goal, assisted by former Norway international Thorstein Helstad. Unfortunately, according to Tjueen.no, he missed the next match due to a “gaming job he had forgotten” (presumably a translation error meaning DJ duties). However, Fotball.no lists the 40-year-old as having played three times this season for the second-place Bærumsløkka.

I must dig deeper. This story needs full examination. Exactly how many matches has Solli played in his men’s league?

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Not only was Patryk Klimala the guest of honor at the 30th Kazimierz Deyna Memorial Tournament organized by the Association of Polish Football Clubs, but he also competed in the celebrity friendly (on the turf field at Garfield High School [the day after the loss to Chicago Fire FC]). Team Adam Kownacki defeated Team Tomasz Adamek by a 5-4 margin, with the Red Bull on the winning side. The Red Bulls striker also hung out with local youth soccer players, serving as a pillar in the community.

Here’s a joke that was submitted by Cora of Seaside Heights.

Nine goals in a single game? Maybe the Red Bulls should have scouted that charity exhibition match.

Thank you, Cora. I’m sure the club is constantly searching for strikers in any and all venues.

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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.