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Red Bulls Paper Revue: January 3, 2022

More transfer rumors, more interviews, and more Anatole Abang Azerbaijani TV segments in this week’s links

SOCCER: JUN 20 MLS - Whitecaps at Redbulls
The camera still loves Anatole Abang in Azerbaijan.
Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire/Corbis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Welcome to the Red Bulls Paper Revue presented by Once a Metro.

Do you ever wonder what George Washington would think of Major League Soccer? He might have some interesting ideas. His first thought would probably be “What is soccer?”

Here’s this week’s top story.


The Red Bulls appear to have missed out on a recent transfer, although this may have been a case of quickly walking away from the negotiating table.

According to reports out of Brazil, the club was in pursuit of Júnior Alonso, who is signing with Krasnodar for a reported fee of 10 million euros. The 28-year-old defender is currently at Atlético Mineiro after spending time on the books at Cerro Porteño, Lille, Celta Vigo, and Boca Juniors. He has made 44 appearances for the Paraguayan national team.

“Before Krasnodar, Júnior Alonso was approached by Tigres,” writes Wilson Pepper. “Later, the New York Red [Bulls] even consulted with [Atlético Mineiro] in order to formalize an offer [for] the defender. However, the U.S. team made no further contact and the matter cooled off.”

Alonso is set to sign a three-year contract with Krasnodar after “accepting the parameters of the agreement.” The Russian Premier League side is paying him two million euros per season. Byki (The Bulls [a little coincidental]) already boast a top defense, which should be strengthened with the addition of the captain from the most recent Campeonato Brasileiro Série A and Copa do Brasil champions, a member of the back line described as “the best in [Atlético Mineiro]’s history.”

That would be a hefty transfer fee to acquire a defender in Major League Soccer, but quality can sometimes come at a price. The reporting of alleged failed approaches also tends to outnumber the successful signings, with constant approaches a requirement of the job. The 2022 MLS season opens in 54 days and the temperature of the hot stove is climbing.


I’m confused. I thought you said Rapid Wien’s Taxiarchis Fountas was connected to the Red Bulls. Then the rumored party was Fenerbahçe. Now the club being floated in Austrian media is D.C. United.

According to Kurier, the Red Bulls’ rivals made an offer for the Greek attacker “before Christmas.” The fee was “too low,” and Rapid refused. The club insists Fountas “will not be given away even half a year before the end of the contract,” due to expire next summer, a timeline that sounds similar to the previous report pertaining to the Red Bulls.

Not that you asked, but my opinion is that the player and his representation seem to be pushing for a move. Rapid has no reason to let him go until a larger bid is submitted. Which club will submit the desired offer?


The Vietnam national team recently competed at the AFF Championship in Singapore. Jason Pendant was on hand to watch the Rồng Vàng (Golden Dragon) fall in the two-leg semifinal to Thailand by a 2-0 aggregate score. The Red Bull defender’s presence has caused a stir in the blogosphere and on social media, with many speculating as to whether he would be joining the squad in the near future.


Youba Diarra remains on trial at Cádiz, hoping to join the cause and help the Spanish club avoid relegation from La Liga. His presence is based on a referral from Frédéric Kanouté, the former Malian international who experienced massive success at Sevilla. Multiple websites have noted that he is incongruent with manager Álvaro Cervera’s stated desires for veteran players, but the midfielder will have the opportunity to demonstrate his impressive talent.


Tom Edwards is officially a Stoke City player, having completed his loan with the Red Bulls. Unfortunately, he has already sustained a knee injury with an expected rehabilitation period of two months. The news is disappointing for a player who wanted to demonstrate his growth and earn a place at his childhood club, which is undergoing an “injury crisis.” There may be enough time to re-establish a spot in the rotation, but this is just a gutting start to his return.


One of the breakout players of the 2021 season, Omir Fernandez, spoke with the Bronx Times about his journey to the Red Bulls. From the fields of Harlem to North Carolina and back to Harrison, he has focused on being a part of the club. His three goals came at a crucial part of the schedule and helped turn around what was shaping up to be a disaster of a year on the field.

“Since I was 13, I’ve been learning how to play the Red Bull way,” said Fernandez. “I’ve always wanted to play for the Red Bulls. When I saw the opportunity, my parents knew we couldn’t pass it up.”

Read the whole interview HERE.


If there was a magazine called Good Goalkeeping, Jyri Nieminen would be on the cover. The Red Bulls assistant appeared on The Bola Bola Show, going deep into the art of his position. The interview delves into “technique, skill, and emotional strength.”.


In the nine years since his flirtation with the New York Red Bulls, Paulo Sousa has been everywhere: Maccabi Tel Aviv, Basel, Fiorentina, Tiajin Quanjian, Bordeaux, and most recently the Polish national team.

The Portuguese manager was appointed to lead the Orly (Eagles) in January of 2021. Under his stewardship, Poland finished last in the group at Euro 2020 and has a hard road ahead to qualify for the next World Cup. He received criticism for his lineup choices, which is a common refrain for anyone holding such a position, but appeared to be decently appreciated by the players.

With a contract ending in March, Sousa was ready to hit the trail, interviewing at Flamengo and discussing “the new organizational chart of the technical committee, arrivals, and departures.” The club hoped to make the announcement quickly, provided the bureaucratic issues were settled with Poland. After a second place finish in Série A, the Portuguese manager would be a change of pace for one of Brazil’s giants, stepping into the legendary shoes of Jorge Jesus.

Only, Poland wasn’t letting Sousa leave. The country’s football association rejected his request, refusing to terminate the contract early. Local press has described the situation as “an incredible scandal” and his behavior “shameful.”

Eventually, Poland let him go, which is probably for the best – don’t chase those who don’t want you. After paying a reported 430,000 euro release clause, Sousa now has a two-year deal with Flamengo, coaching in a nation famous for letting go of managers at the drop of a hat. Perhaps that suits his pattern of constant movement.

He took to Instagram to thank his former employer, and Poland fans are taking things… well.

Almost a decade later and there is still a maelstrom of drama surrounding the man. At this point, I wish the Red Bulls had hired Sousa instead of Mike Petke. Chaos, good or bad, is more interesting in hindsight.


Monaco needs a manager following the departure of Niko Kovac. By now, you’ve probably seen that Jesse Marsch is on the short-list of potential appointments. The eight-time Ligue 1 champions have a few former Red Bulls in the fold, including sporting director Paul Mitchell and technical director Laurence Stewart. Football is a sport of connections, after all.

Let’s not forget about assistant coach Damien Perrinelle. While his employment would traditionally be tied with the departing manager, that is not the case in this instance. To the surprise of observers, he is “staying at the club” and considered a “strongman” for Mitchell.

I have a feeling Perrinelle is going to be a big-deal manager within the next decade.


Checking in on Anatole Abang, there is no update on his transfer drama.

That doesn’t mean he was completely out of the headlines. The free agent hosted a cooking segment on 90 Plus with his wife. The new couple prepared a bountiful avocado salad while wearing their finest holiday sweaters.

Then they played Jenga. If you want to find out who won, you’ll have to watch and find out. I don’t want to spoil the surprise.


Teemu Tainio is still the manager at FC Haka, finishing the 2021 Veikkausliiga season at eighth in the 12-team table. The club is gearing up for the next campaign, looking to continue the successful run in the top tier. Unfortunately, they will be moving ahead without a certain player, whose departure hits a little closer to home than normal.

Tainio’s son Maximus is leaving Haka, seeking his fortune elsewhere. “It was concluded with Max that now is the time for him to look at a new option,” said the former Red Bull. “Haka loses a good player, but this is the most sensible solution for Max himself. I am now talking as a father, not as coach: Maxi can see elsewhere how his career is progressing… Hopefully Max will not have any success against us. There are a few foreign [offers].”

Teemu Tainio the father won out over Teemu Tainio the manager. I’m sure the all-too-brief experience will be something they look back upon fondly.


Former Red Bull Fidel Escobar traveled home for the holidays, providing a “beautiful gesture” to his community.

The AD Alcorcón defender held “a small party for the children of Panamá Viejo.” This is the fifth edition of the annual fiesta, described as a “beautiful tradition” that he hopes to continue for many more years. He truly embodies the spirit of the holidays.

Unfortunately, Alcorcón is embodying a different reality, at the bottom of the Segunda División table. Los Alfareros (The Potters) have 11 points from 22 matches and are 12 points from safety. Escobar has played… eight times this season for a total of 179 minutes.

I’m not involved in the situation, but perhaps, just perhaps, the manager should consider using the Panama international.


The Gonzalo Verón court case keeps clopping along, as he attempts to regain the alleged unpaid wages from his former club.

His representatives met with Independiente, hoping to agree to a settlement. His side was willing to reduce their claim from $6.5 million to $4 million, paid over 12 months in “six equal and consecutive installments.” The club counter-offered $3 million “to be paid in semi-annual installments.”

The two sides appear very far apart.

Here’s a joke that was submitted by Vivian of Sayreville.

I haven’t seen a separation this contentious since I divorced my third husband.”

Thank you, Vivian. I’m sure number four will be the real winner.


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