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Red Bulls Paper Revue: May 30, 2022

Watford plots their next move with Ashley Fletcher, Andreas Ivan gets a big promotion, and Anatole Abang’s services are not needed in this week’s links

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MLS: Columbus Crew SC at New York Red Bulls
Could Ashley Fletcher be on his way back to Watford already?
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

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

I refer to the director of Ocean’s 11, The Limey, and Traffic as Steven Sorta-bored because I’m merely lukewarm on his films. I’m just kidding. He’s fantastic.

Here’s this week’s top story.

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In a month or so, the New York Red Bulls will need to make a decision on Ashley Fletcher. The English striker made a brief impact but has largely been outside the lineup due to an injury. Whether he stays or not is up for debate, but his services may be needed elsewhere.

“Although it’s unlikely that he would be seen as first choice, a decision will be made on Ashley Fletcher in the coming weeks as to his suitability for the Championship campaign,” writes Adam Leventhal for The Athletic. “The decision to sign Fletcher as a free agent last May is known to have been made prior to promotion being secured and his chances were then inhibited by other activity in the market. Those close to the 26-year-old striker — currently carrying an injury while on loan at New York Red Bulls — believe he has the potential to play a key role. It’s understood prior to him leaving to play in MLS in January, where the New Yorkers hold [an] option to make his loan permanent, Huddersfield Town of the second tier were keen on signing him.”

As you may or may not be aware, Watford is headed back to the Championship following a subpar season in the Premier League. Fletcher experienced his best days in the second division with Middlesbrough, notably during 2019 and 2020. With things not quite working out in New York, perhaps his return back across the Atlantic should be expected, with the Red Bulls making transfer market plans in anticipation.

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Cross Jürgen Heil off the list of summer transfer targets.

The “midfield engine” extended his contract with TSV Hartberg through the summer of 2026. He has been at the Styrian club since 2015, racking up 188 appearances. The 25-year-old was a key player this season with four goals and five assists.

“Everyone knows how happy and comfortable I feel here in Hartberg,” Heil told the club’s official website. “I am very happy that it worked. The club showed me that they really want to continue with me. That’s why I took the step of staying here. I have goals, I want to really attack here next year.”

You can’t blame a guy for being loyal. And you can’t spell “loyal” without H-E-I-L. Actually, you probably can.

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The Red Bulls will have some competition if still in the market for Dominik Baumgartner, which I frankly doubt at this juncture. According to Kleine Zeitung, SK Sturm Graz is hoping to pursue the midfielder. After a second place finish in the Austrian Bundesliga, Sturm Graz is looking to reload ahead of last season. The club is set for Champions League qualifiers and might be willing to get him out of his contract which ends in the summer of 2023.

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Speaking of transfer rumors based in Austria, Zlatko Junuzović is looking to leave the country. The Red Bull Salzburg midfielder has interest up and down the map and yearns for a move abroad. He spoke to Sky Sports Austria about his future.

“I will not move to [another Austrian club],” shared Junuzović. “Either it will be abroad or something else. I’m thinking. I want to switch off a bit now. I hope that I can make a 100% decision in good time.”

Now, an ideal New York signing would get into camp as soon as possible. With the team looking like an MLS Cup contender on some days, any addition needs to hit the ground running. Junuzović is a consummate professional but seems to desire a break.

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FC Liefering has a new manager, and he’s Gerhard Struber… ’s former assistant!

The Red Bull Salzburg reserve team hired Fabio Ingolitsch, replacing Rene Aufhauser. The 30-year-old is “the youngest graduate of the UEFA pro license.” He worked under Struber when the New York manager had a brief spell in charge of Liefering.

Speaking of open positions, Salzburg appears to be staying filled for now. Matthias Jaissle signed a contract extension with the Austrians through June of 2025. The buzzy young manager simply “loves” working at the club and “didn’t need any convincing.”

As for that other-other job, the Augsburg role, the Germans appear to have landed on a new top candidate. Peter Zeidler of Switzerland’s FC St. Gallen has risen to the top of the list. There have already been discussions about a transfer fee, which sounds pretty serious.

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We already knew this, but David Jensen will not be staying at KVC Westerlo. The Belgian club announced that he “will no longer be seen on the Westelse fields after this season,” wording that even Edgar Allen Poe would describe as a touch melodramatic. There is little sense in paying a transfer fee considering his contract with the Red Bulls ends in six months.

The question is, what will the club do with him upon his official return to the roster? My guess is probably a quick loan somewhere. After that, both sides walk away with a firm handshake and the memory of that fantastic save in the MLS is Back Tournament against Atlanta United.

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You may hold some fond, distant memory of the 2022 MLS SuperDraft. With the 73rd overall pick (acquired from Minnesota United in exchange for Homegrown player Aziel Jackson), the Red Bulls selected Seth Kuhn out of Pennsylvania State University. He was named the Best Offensive Player at the 2021 Big Ten Tournament.

You may also notice that Mr. Kuhn is not on the Red Bulls’ MLS or USL rosters. That’s because he will be returning to State College as a graduate student for the upcoming season. The world waits with bated breath to learn if the midfielder can be drafted again next season.

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Speaking of prospects of yesteryear [Yestermonth?], former trialist Molik Jesse Khan found a berth. The Trinidad and Tobago senior international landed at Minnesota United 2 of the MLS NEXT Pro. He spent the fall with the powerful St. Benedict’s Prep men’s soccer program, leading the Gray Bees to an undefeated record and NJISAA Prep A state championship.

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Breiðablik continued the hot streak, romping over Knattspyrnufélagið Valur by a 6-2 margin in the Mjólkurbikarinn domestic cup competition. Omar Sowe scored the first goal in the 21st minute. He is making quite the name for himself in Iceland.

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Andreas Ivan didn’t have a good season with Rot Weiss Ahlen in the fourth-tier Regionalliga West… because he had a great one! The 27-year-old former Red Bull contributed ten goals and eight assists in 28 matches. His play even drew the attention of quite the suitor.

Ahead of next season, no less than FC Schalke signed Ivan to a reserve-team contract, a curious move for someone of his age. Die Königsblauen (The Royal Blues) recently returned to the Bundesliga after topping the second-division table. If the attacker’s strong form continues, perhaps he is given a shot with the senior group.

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Everyone wants to get the lowdown on soccer in the Gateway City. There is a palpable buzz surrounding the new club, with a worldwide audience hoping to get to know Bradley Carnell. The former Red Bulls interim manager spoke with Spox on a wide, wide, wide variety of topics from a diddle-eyed Joe to a damned if I know.

His fiefdom will be shaped by a group of whatsies and whosens. “Of course you mainly look at the clubs that have a similar philosophy,” said Carnell. “I watch every Leipzig game, every Southampton game, every Salzburg game, every Leeds game. I want to see what trends there are. I will definitely be making a trip to Europe this year and looking for a direct exchange. It’s no secret that Jesse Marsch has been a huge influence and inspiration to me. We have become very good friends. He has an incredible ability to engage and engage players. He embodies this American way of management, from which I was able to learn a lot.”

What led the assistant to hanging his own shingle? “There were several factors,” shared the South African. “I lost my father last year. At such a point you think a lot about life. I said to myself: You’re in your mid-40s now, if you want to take the step to head coach and want to test yourself there, when do you want to do it if not now? It was just the logical next step in my personal development. In addition, the experience as an interim coach made me want more. Then came the talks with Lutz Pfannenstiel, where it quickly became clear that we were on the same wavelength, as a person, but also as a footballer. He showed me a path that I really wanted to be part of.”

Is anyone rooting against Carnell? I’m sure somebody is. If you’re someone who wants him to fail, call in. We’ll be here from noon to three.

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Opportunities can be hard to come by at a club like Clube Atlético Mineiro, but Fábio Gomes is making the most of them. The Brazilian striker scored the match-winning goal (but not series-claiming) in a 1-0 win over Brasiliense FC in the domestic Copa do Brasil. He followed that up with an assist in the Copa Libertadores, a 2-1 loss to Deportes Tolima with qualification for the knockout rounds already secured.

He’s been the source of some recent criticism, but that’s not going to bring him down. “Lately, I haven’t had so many opportunities, but I prepared myself as best I could to be ready when it came to scale,” said Fábio. “It’s a privilege to have a guy like [Hulk] working with you daily. If I look on the positive side, I can look up to him and learn a lot from Hulk, in every way. I have a great relationship with him and I try to absorb all of his teachings to evolve as a player and as a professional.”

Fábio continued “working hard” in training and waited for the right opportunity, which eventually arrived. That’s life as a player at a massive club, with fortunes constantly rising and falling. At least, that’s how I assume it is, not like I’d actually know.

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The door is open at Swindon Town if Mandela Egbo chooses to walk through it. Following a thrilling season that ended in the promotion playoffs, the club has offered the former Red Bull a new contract. While his level appears to be above League Two, perhaps there is something to be said about competing in the right environment.

On the other hand, playing careers are short and money should be close to the top priority.

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TSV Hartberg is hoping to keep an apparently now-completely healthy Youba Diarra in the fold. The Malian midfielder spent last season on loan at the Austrian Bundesliga club from Red Bull Salzburg, appearing in all 16 available matches. His continued stay would add some necessary consistency with only a few reinforcements expected in the squad.

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Another former Red Bull is set to enter the coaching ranks.

According to reports out of Australia, David Carney is the “leading contender” to manage Wollongong Wolves FC. Based in New South Wales, the semi-professional club competes in the second-tier National Premier Leagues. The open position is described as “one of the hottest gigs in the state.” The final decision and announcement are expected by the end of the week.

“I’ve seen what [outgoing coach] Luke [Wilkshire] has done for the club and the community,” Carney told the Illawarra Mercury. “I’ve seen the professional environment he’s installed at the Wollongong Wolves since he came in. I’ve got to take over from what Luke’s done and add to it, keep improving. I’ve got to keep doing what Luke’s doing and keep the club moving forward. They love their football in Wollongong. Producing footballers is part of their history.”

Carney is already a regular at training, appearing to have the support of Wilkshire. The 38-year-old midfielder-defender played for the Red Bulls in 2013, a member of the team that won the historic Supporters’ Shield. He earned 38 caps with the Australian national team, competing at the 2010 World Cup.

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We are going to set the goddamn record straight right here and now. Ibra Sekajja is NOT related to Ibrahim Sekagya. As reported by The Monitor, the Dulwich Hamlet striker laughed and insisted that his only connection to the Red Bulls coach is that they are “both Ugandans.”

From this moment, if I see a single one of you insinuating otherwise, there will be dire consequences.

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Anatole Abang may have only played in Azerbaijan for a brief time, but his play made quite the impact. His former club is still receiving inquiries as to whether he will return. Manager Rustam Aliyev responded, “No, we are not interested in his service.”

Well, I’m sure the feeling is mutual!

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The legal saga of Gonzalo Verón rolls on.

The former Red Bulls attacker refused the latest maneuver from Independiente, rejecting a $1,300,000 offer and continuing to demand $4,000,000 for an unpaid contract. His former club “tried to put [up] a property as a guarantee of payment,” but “these facilities have a lower value than claimed by the player.” He is still hoping for the “seizure of money” from “television rights.” Ever the diplomat, Verón would be willing to settle if both parties happened to agree on a settlement of around $3,000,000.

The check won’t be coming soon. According to OrgulloRojo, the trial is “not convenient for the player,” with the settlement taking “between five and eight years to collect.” However, tiiiiii-IIIIII-iiiiiime is on his side (Yes, it is.), and Verón would be willing to wait as long as necessary while Independiente reportedly struggles to put up the cash.

Here’s a joke that was submitted by Janis of Hawthorne.

I’ve settled before: on my husband’s looks when I got married.”

Thank you, Janis. Don’t tell him that.

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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.