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Red Bulls Paper Revue: May 23, 2022

Victor Palsson discusses his demons, Gerhard Struber discusses everything, and Matthew Nocita is free to join the Red Bulls in this week’s links

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New York Red Bulls v Montreal Impact
Former Red Bull Victor Palsson was candid about his mental health struggles this week.
Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images

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

I would say my most pedestrian taste is that I love the song “Wagon Wheel.” It’s fun to listen to, regardless of the singer. That’s about all there is to it. It’s a nice song. Stop judging me.

Here’s this week’s top story.

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Every so often, Gerhard Struber does an in-depth interview with a European publication. The most recent discussion took place with Eurosport, perhaps his most wide-ranging and informative chat in a while. You should read the whole article (which touches on everything from cup expectations to why he turned down Manchester United and beyond), but I’ll clip a few of the answers that I find to be most pertinent to Red Bulls observers.

A move back to Europe will happen, but the “when” is still up for debate. “In principle, I feel ready for this step,” said Struber. “But that doesn’t mean that I have to go there as soon as possible, especially since I have a great job here in New York and I feel very comfortable. The questions also arise: What is the game orientation of the interested club, do they want to follow my sporting path? I’m someone who plays very proactively, so you need people all around who are brave and don’t avoid mistakes.”

Perhaps the biggest driving factor is his desire to reunite with his loved ones. “I’m not stressed about taking this step overnight,” shared the manager. “The task here is demanding and exciting. Just because there is movement on the coaching market in Germany, I don’t rush ahead and bring myself into the conversation like other coaches. I also have a certain responsibility towards my club and my players. Nevertheless, I don’t rule out moving to Germany at some point. Of course I want to go back to Europe in the future, if only because my family is in Austria. It’s also about doing more justice to my responsibility as a father and not leaving all the work to my wife in this regard.”

The 45-year-old Austrian does not have a deadline, hoping to find a gig that “harmonizes in all directions.” Who knows when Struber will drive off the Red Bull New York highway? I’m sure there are at least a few more exits until he departs.

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You’ve probably heard this by now, but the Red Bulls “presented an amended development plan for [the] proposed training facility on the former Honeywell campus” in Morris Township. An ordinance allowed for “uses in the non-residential overlay district of the redeveloped 147-actre tract.” The current estimated date of completion is 2028.

The preliminary site plan passed with a “unanimous vote” from the Morris Planning Board. What happens next? Well, there’s still that lawsuit with the Fair Share Housing Center, which caused the mayor to decline to comment.

I love local politics.

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The Red Bulls are getting a defender!

Four student-athletes from the Naval Academy received permission to pursue a professional career in the sporting world. Among the group is Midshipman 1st Class Matthew Nocita. The towering defender was selected in the first round of the 2022 MLS SuperDraft. He will “enlist in the Marine Corps Individual Ready Reserve upon graduation this Friday.”

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We have a transfer rumor.

According to Torcedores.com, the Red Bulls made an approach for Charles Aránguiz. The 33-year-old Chilean midfielder is with Bayer Leverkusen, under contract through June of 2023. However, he wants to leave, and the details are quite intriguing.

“The club’s sporting director, Denis Hamlett, made contact this Thursday with the athlete’s representative in order to form a proposal for the midfielder,” wrote Wilson Pimentel. “[The] move to the New York Red Bulls has the approval of Gerhard Struber, who is very enthusiastic about the athlete’s arrival. Also according to the report, the Red Bulls are willing to offer a salary of $3 million.”

Aránguiz is looking to leave Germany, in search of “quality of life for his family.” Leverkusen will avoid pushing for a contract renewal, but nothing is settled at the moment. If a move fails to materialize, he still has to show up at training camp.

Now, it’s fair to ask, would the Red Bulls be interested in a 33-year-old midfielder? I don’t think it’s outside of the question, and Aránguiz fits the experienced profile of recent transfer rumors. Also the invocation of Hamlett’s name either lends credence to this whole thing or doesn’t.

All that can be done is to wait and see. Journalism is also an option, but I’m not going to do that.

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DING-DONG, DING-DONG.

Who’s that at the door? Why, it’s another transfer rumor! Come on in, fella!

English media reports that Theo Walcott is “considering [an] MLS transfer” this summer. The 33-year-old winger considers “Los Angeles or New York among his favoured destinations.” He has not appeared for Southampton since February and played a grand total of zero Premier League minutes, with the club hoping to get the “top earner” off the books.

I’m sure the LA Galaxy will have tons of fun with this signing.

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TSV Hartberg avoided relegation from the Austrian Bundesliga by but a single point. This sort of emotional release leads some to make grand declarations of commitment, like when people fall in love at weddings or make out during a Limp Bizkit concert. Jürgen Heil is certainly feeling some type of way, telling Kleine Zeitung that he is “deep in negotiations” with the club, despite appearing set to leave a few months ago.

Described as “signing jerseys, taking selfies, and giving hugs,” the 25-year-old midfielder seems quite at home in Austria and/or running for office. The Red Bulls have probably moved on. By the time you read a transfer rumor in these pages, there are ten new targets being pursued, each one sitting alone and staring off into the distance, hoping for a new adventure.

***

It’s always nice to have friends. Lewis Morgan appears to still have them in Miami, both on the team and coaching staff. I’m sure they don’t even care that he scored six goals on Sunday night! [This was written on Saturday.]

“The fans loved him, and we loved him, he’s a great lad,” said manager Phil Neville. “He did brilliant things for us, but we had to make tough decisions to rebuild our squad and unfortunately he was part of that. We know what his qualities are, and that is why the Red Bulls paid so much money for him. We wish him all the best, except for the 90 minutes on Sunday. We’ll have to mark him tightly.”

Victor Ulloa also “remains friends with Morgan” and said “it will be nice to see him.” I suppose the work friendships in sport are different than the work friendships in an office, where a person leaves and is forgotten by next week.

***

Breiðablik took on Knattspyrnufélagið Fram in hot Besta-deild karla action. Blikar (twinkle) registered three points at the home fortress of the Kópavogsvöllur in a wild 4-3 victory, extending the season-opening winning streak to seven matches. On-loan attacker Omar Sowe scored the crucial goal, finding the back of the net in the 87th minute, his first in Iceland.

“It’s great to win and I have to thank the coaching staff for their trust and commitment,” he said after the match. “These were good results… I love being here. This is a wonderful country with wonderful people. I’m in the best team in Iceland and I have to put in a lot of effort to try to prove to the coach that I deserve to be in the starting line-up. It has been difficult, but I am adjusting.”

Breiðablik returns to action Thursday, taking on Knattspyrnufélagið Valur in the Round of 32 in the Mjólkurbikarinn domestic cup competition.

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Esbjerg fB pulled off a 2-1 victory against Hobro! Mathias Jørgensen was not included in the match-day roster! Relegation is… still happening! Needing six points with one match remaining means the boys from West Jutland are dropping down to the third tier of Danish football.

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The Swindon Town promotion dream is over.

The Robins fell to Port Vale in the second leg of the League 2 playoff semifinal, losing, 1-0, in regulation and falling, 6-5, in a penalty shootout. Mandela Egbo converted a penalty in the seventh round, but his team was unable to keep pace. The former Red Bull is now out of contract but should easily find a new club after a strong half of the season.

The post-match pitch invasion by Port Vale attendees caused quite a stir for all the wrong reasons. Egbo denounced the opposition on social media after allegedly being assaulted, with the manager claiming players felt “afraid for their safety.” Swindon Town supporters are “being urged to contact Staffordshire Police with information.”

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Schalke is getting promoted! The historic German club returns to the Bundesliga after topping the second-division table. There is a heavy Red Bull presence in the locker room, with Victor Pálsson and Marc Rzatkowski roaming the halls of the Veltins-Arena.

The former was profiled by Spiegel, detailing the darker times in his career. “If we had a day off, I would spill myself and continue drinking the next day so as not to have to admit how wrong I was,” said the Schalke vice-captain (via Sport1). “[I] couldn’t face the conflicts and pain of my difficult childhood, so I grabbed a glass. Drinking was a form of escape… Back then, I got distracted by a lot of things outside of football, like gambling and alcohol. I was plagued by mental problems.”

Therapists and sports psychologists “helped [him] out of [his] lows.” Pálsson encourages others to seek help because it is not “a sign of weakness.” However, he understands that mental health conversation can be “kind of taboo,” especially in the sporting world.

Congratulations to Pálsson and Rzatkowski.

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A former Red Bulls transfer target should be on the market.

According to The Athletic, Celtic will attempt “to move on Ismaila Soro” and other players. The 24-year-old midfielder made a total of 19 appearances in all competitions this season but hasn’t played since early February. He was connected to New York during the winter transfer window, seemingly allowed to move, although nothing came to pass.

Is the Celtic roster still the homepage on all computers at Red Bull Arena or is that no longer the policy following the departure of Kevin Thelwell?

***

Former Red Bull Florian Valot appeared on the Pitch Side FC podcast. The Miami FC midfielder discussed his professional career, including his time in New York. As comes as no surprise, two managers made a particular impact on his career.

“I feel like I owe a lot to this organization as a whole,” said Valot. “The coach, John Wolyniec, helped me a lot [to] develop as a player. And then Jesse Marsch gave me my shot in MLS… [Marsch] has done amazing things in MLS, and I always wished him the best in Europe. That was his dream, to go there and perform and bring those teams to the top. He did a really good job at Salzburg. Unfortunately, Leipzig didn’t last really long, but I hope I can see him perform as well with Leeds. He’s an amazing coach and amazing person, and if he succeeds, I won’t be surprised.”

Did Marsch succeed? Well… it appears he did. Leeds is staying up, with the manager getting a summer transfer window to build the team in his image. His name will now be cycled through any future job hunts involving clubs looking to avoid relegation.

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Speaking of available transfer targets, Luca Lewis is… available. The former Red Bulls goalkeeper spent the last few months with A.C. Cesena in Serie C but didn’t make an appearance as a sort of non-roster training player. I Cavallucci Marini (The Seahorses/Seahorsies) lost in the third round of the third-division promotion playoffs and will wait for the arrival of the new sporting director and coach before making any big decisions.

Here’s a joke that was submitted by Dahlia of Willingboro Township.

Perhaps Luca will play in France and be as celebrated as his Uncle Jerry.

Thank you, Dahlia. I doubt they’re related.

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Do you have a story you’d like to submit to the Paper Revue? Email us at bencorkOAM@gmail.com or send a DM to @Once_A_Metro on Twitter.