Red Bulls Paper Revue: January 10, 2022
Mario Gomez is settling in as the new chief executive for Red Bull’s global soccer network. | Photo by Stefan Matzke - sampics/Corbis via Getty Images Mario Gomez settles in as the new Ralf, Jason Pendant moves closer to a Vietnam call-up, and transfer smoke left and right in this week’s links Welcome to the Red Bulls Paper Revue presented by Once a Metro. After defeating the Roman army, Spartacus reached the Alps and, by extension, freedom. The revolutionary decided to turn back and travel south into what is now Italy, to the continued confusion of befuddled historians who have yet to land on his reasoning. Was his eventual downfall caused by hubris, the pursuit of revenge, a sense of duty to those still enslaved, or being trapped in a world of combat, unwilling to envision another life? Maybe he forgot to close the garage door. Here’s this week’s top story. *** The New York Red Bulls appear to have given a hearty “Au revoir” to Issiar Dramé. The club signed the free agent center back late in September with the intention of “adding necessary depth to the back line.” He was released at the end of the season following three appearances for the reserve team in the USL Championship. However, New York was “in discussion to bring [him] back in 2022.” One party clearly walked away from the bargaining table because Dramé popped up on the radar in Europe. According to writer Marcel Rohner of Tages-Anzeiger, the towering terror is on trial with Grasshopper Club Zürich of the Swiss Super League. He would be a replacement for defender Toti Gomes, who “will be in Wolverhampton at least until the end of January” for a brief check-in and some training. This club is a shell of the Grasshopper that once dominated Swiss football. The 27-time first division champions were relegated from the Super League following the 2019 season. After two years in the Challenge League, GCZ is back in the top tier, at sixth in the ten-team table. *** On that note, Youba Diarra is also not returning to Major League Soccer. The Malian midfielder is again going on loan to TSV Hartberg of the Austrian Bundesliga. He spent the latter half of 2018 with the club, making 12 appearances before suffering an injury and returning to Salzburg. The club is currently eighth in the 12-team table. “We are very happy to have Youba Diarra back in Hartberg,” said club executive Erich Korherr. “Youba was an absolute key figure in central midfield at the time, [and] his strong performances from the three months are still well remembered. He’s been through a long period of suffering, but is now in top shape again and is keen on missions. We can give him the opportunity to find his way back to old strength in peace and quiet at a high level. Youba [enriches] for Hartberg both personally and athletically.” The midfielder is already at the club and set to begin training on Monday. New York will have to look elsewhere for a six. Perhaps someone like Franco Díaz of Club Atlético Temperley is on the docket (but probably not anymore). *** By now, you’ve probably heard that Fábio Gomes has signed for Clube Atlético Mineiro. The striker has gone from rotational striker in MLS straight to the reigning Campeonato Brasileiro Série A, Campeonato Mineiro, and Copa do Brasil champions. The club paid Oeste $1.5 million for 50% of his rights, which was likely outside of the Red Bulls’ desired range. “[I have] the best expectations,” he told TV Galo (doing my best to translate). “It’s a heavy shirt. It’s a big team. I’ve always had a dream to play in a big team… Everyone says I’m fast, I’m tall, so I hope to score a lot of goals and bring joy to the fans.” A new manager is expected to be announced next week. Negotiations broke down with Jorge Jesus and Carlos Carvalhal. The next name percolating in the media is Eduardo Berizzo, most recently in charge of the Paraguay national team. *** Speaking of Atlético Mineiro, the man Fábio replaced, Diego Costa, is now on the market. According to Goal, the 33-year-old striker has drawn the interest of Brazilian club Corinthians but prefers to return to Europe. He has an alleged offer from Cádiz, fighting the good fight to avoid relegation from La Liga. There is, of course, another outfit mentioned. “Costa is currently in Spain with one of his representatives,” reads the report. “The attacker is looking for an advantageous contract and will analyze the options calmly. Parallel to this, New York Red Bull also appears as an interested club.” The Spanish international would certainly be an interesting addition. His profile is a bit outside the typical Red Bull ethos, but a player of his caliber should always be welcomed with open arms. And, uh…yeah, this isn’t happening. *** Everyone loves to hear from Bernd Eibler. The assistant coach is on his great American adventure, learning and growing with the Red Bulls. He was quite put out by the end of the season, the last-second loss to Philadelphia. “That was definitely one of the bitterest moments ever,” Eibler told BVZ. “We have changed a lot, brought in a lot of new players. Some of them came late to the team due to COVID and Visa processes. It was clear that not everything would work overnight, especially in our football idea… The new approaches in the game against the ball, the Red Bull idea, definitely made me even more complete as a coach.” He is looking forward to the 2022 season. “We have laid the foundation stone and implemented the philosophy in the team,” said the 27-year-old. “If we can keep the squad and do a good job in the transfer window, then I definitely have the confidence to play for the title.” Eibler considers MLS more physical and athletic than Europe. He enjoys attending NBA and NHL games, which is nice as long as the Austrian is supporting the Knicks and not the Nets. His girlfriend, Julia, comes to visit from time to time, which is nice. I also go to sporting events… all the time… with my girlfriend… who exists… and... is… lovely. *** With negative results piling up, the drumbeat grows louder. After “recent failures,” the Vietnam national team looks to commit to naming international players to future rosters. Jason Pendant is considered “the first player” in line for a call-up. Manager Park Hang Seo has a crowded schedule ahead, with World Cup qualifying and the seemingly interminable seven-month-long 2022 AFC Cup. *** Red Bulls fans might be unsure of how Lewis Morgan fits into the squad, but they can be assured of his pedigree. The St. Mirren academy is now in the “elite tier” of Scotland, “alongside the likes of Celtic, Rangers, Hearts, and Hibs.” The club has invested further into the youth sector, adding “staffing and infrastructure.” After a stint in the Rangers academy, Morgan joined The Buddies. Coaches recognized his “raw talent” and pushed him to join the first team. At the time, the club employed David Longwell, who went on to work with the Red Bulls for a few years and is currently an assistant at Shrewsbury. *** Dragan Solak of United Group and Sport Republic purchased a controlling stake in Southampton. The “Serbian-born cable television tycoon” paid £100 million for 80% of the Premier League club. Katharina Liebherr will keep her minority share. That’s all very standard and not the interesting part. Sport Republic plans to enter into the world of modern football and “build a portfolio of high-influence stakes in football clubs and other sporting assets around the world,” following the lead of many other organizational octopi with tentacles caressing leagues on every continent. Umbrella ownership is the way of the future, whether fans like the concept or not. Adapt or die, survival of the fittest, and make your own luck: was Red Bull ahead of the curve or the trendsetter? *** Chris Duvall hung up his boots. The 30-year-old announced his retirement on Instagram. “I spent my entire life dedicating [my] mind and body to the game that I love,” he wrote. “From the trophies we won in NY and Portland to my very last day in Cincy, it’s been more than I ever could have asked for. I want to thank the coaches that truly inspired me, from [Mike] Petke to Jesse [Marsch] and Gio [Savarese].” Duvall was drafted by the Red Bulls in 2014 and spent three seasons at the club. He made 65 total appearances and was a member of the squad that won the 2015 Supporters’ Shield. Following his departure, the defender played with the Montreal Impact, Houston Dynamo, Rio Grande Valley FC, OKC Energy, the Portland Timbers, and FC Cincinnati. *** A former Red Bulls executive has a new job. Well, it’s the same job but now full-time. Ricardo Campos was appointed to the club president role by San Diego Loyal. He was promoted to interim in July of 2021 after joining the USL Championship club as a vice president in June of 2019. “There’s no place I’d rather be than with this club and community,” said the executive, no doubt enjoying the picturesque Southern California weather. “I’m excited to help continue our mission as we look to reach new heights on and off the field in 2022.” Campos spent several years as the Red Bulls technical director, rising from the position of team administrator. He departed the club in March of 2015. The polyglot (English, Spanish, and Portuguese) was considered “a major part of scouting and salary-cap management efforts.” *** Don’t let Al-Taawoun get hot! The Cooperation is out of the darkness of the relegation zone and into the light of 11th place. A 2-1 victory over Al-Hazm has the club zooming. Unfortunately, Alejandro “Kaku” Gamarra suffered a left knee injury and “will undergo medical examinations in the coming days.” He exited the match in the 72nd minute and was “unable to walk.” According to SportKSA (via Google Translate), Kaku ruptured his cruciate ligament. After an upcoming surgery, he is expected to miss the rest of the “current sports season” while rehabbing at the Aspire Academy in Doha, Qatar. The attacker recently renewed his contract through June of 2025, but Al-Taawoun may “search for a foreign alternative in the winter transfer window.” *** A host of clubs are chasing free agent winger Josh Sims. According to writer Peter O’Rourke, the group includes Hull City, Sheffield Wednesday, Portsmouth, and Lincoln City. The 24-year-old has been out of contract since the summer, dealing with some health issues. He spent a successful year on loan with Doncaster Rovers before being released by Southampton. One club presents the opportunity to link up with a familiar face, but nothing is guaranteed. “We know the situation of where [Sims] is at and we will see what can develop going forward but I won’t be drawn into saying yes we will sign Josh,” said former Doncaster and current Sheffield manager Darren Moore. “I am just saying, I have worked with him and he’s a good player.” He is a good player, no denying that. Sims has many years left in his career, having displayed the necessary dynamism and talent to thrive on the wings. The difficult part is identifying the proper environment in which to flourish. *** Here’s a story that was submitted by OaM Oakland bureau chief Juan Mesa. Samuel Tetteh is leading the promotion charge. The Ghanaian attacker scored in the 3-1 victory over Bursaspor in Turkish second division action. He intercepted a pass and slotted the ball into the net. Adanaspor is at sixth place in the TFF First League (again, second division) table, pushing for a spot in the promotion playoffs. Tetteh has three goals this season and looks quite sharp. If he scores a few more, then perhaps the next level is well within reach. *** Here’s another national story submitted by the roving head of our Amherst and Vail bureaus Eric Friedlander. The whispers and murmurs are now shouts because Mario Gomez is the new technical director of Red Bull. His job entails working with Bragantino and New York, advancing synergy, strategic planning, and other logistical buzzwords that I don’t understand. “He is an absolute team player, bursts with energy and passion, and is full of anticipation and zest for action with regard to the tasks and challenges ahead,” said Leipzig managing director Oliver Mintzlaff. Markus Krösche echoed similar praise for the retired German international. “He has a lot of experience, maybe not in the position, but he has played in different countries and of course he can draw infinitely from his experience as a player,” said the former Leipzig head of sport. “So I trust him to do that.” As always, the opaque position’s responsibilities have never been completely laid out. According to Tag24, Gomez will be “examining the individual locations and working with his close team (Dr. Alexander Schmalhofer, Thomas Schlieck, and Dr. Christian Kennel) to ensure the sustainable development of the clubs.” This is his first job as an executive, a manageable role that could lead to bigger responsibilities down the road. *** When travelling to New York, don’t expect Gomez to be flying first-class. According to Oliver Mintzlaff, Red Bull is dealing with a massive deficit due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “So far we are missing a total of 60 million euros, not including the current year and the lack of audience income,” he said last week. “These are dramatic losses.” This echoes comments made last month, in which Mintzlaff bemoaned the issues of playing in an empty stadium. Saxony had reportedly put stricter restrictions into place, dropping the planned “stadium load” from 30 percent to zero. While Red Bull possesses the financial wherewithal to weather the storm, will other clubs be as fortunate? *** In the midst of the winter break, Red Bull Salzburg canceled their planned training camp in Marbella, Spain, opting to stay in Austria. There are a few absences due to the coronavirus and a few long-term injuries. Of possible interest to New York supporters, Zlatko Junuzović remains on the sidelines, continuing the rehabilitation process. *** Red Bulls II midfielder Steven Sserwadda was interviewed by Nnalubaale Sports (“True definition of Ugandan sports both on and off the turf!”). The club signed him in September after a long pursuit. He displayed some intriguing qualities during his brief appearances in the USL Championship and is primed for a breakout 2022 season. “Life there [in the United States] is not so bad compared to life in Uganda with my former club,” said the 19-year-old. “We possess a lot and that’s the same thing I was doing during my period when I was still at [Kampala Capital City Authority FC]. Though there are some different things that we do that we normally don’t do in Uganda or we didn’t do during the time I was at KCC. The training [is] so different from the training that I’ve been doing here in Uganda. The style of play is almost the same, but… in New York it is business. We have to win because that’s the only thing we do: winning, winning, winning, and running.” His hope for next season is to “score as many goals as he can” and “create chances for the team.” Sserwadda is also not the biggest fan of the weather, which is understandable considering how the New York metropolitan area gets the worst of both worlds. This really is a dumb part of the country with cold, wet, dreary winters and appallingly hot, sticky summers. *** Call up H.W. Plainview because we’re going prospecting and speculating. (“I’m a transfer-rumor man, ladies and gentlemen. I have numerous reports spread across this website. I have many stories flowing at many dozen clicks per day.”) An interesting rumor popped up on the radar at the end of 2021. Andrey Pankov of Championat wrote that Mateo Cassierra of Sochi has offers from “an MLS club and a Scottish Championship club” among “other contenders.” The 24-year-old Colombian attacker has scored eight goals in 11 Russian Premier League appearances this season. Now, there is nothing connecting the Red Bulls to Cassierra, but let’s look at his profile. The former Colombian youth international began his career with Deportivo Cali before earning a big 5.5 million euro transfer to Ajax. While dominating at the reserve level, he struggled to reach the first team and failed to perform on various loans. His next move led to Belenenses in the Portuguese Primeira Liga, where production was decent but unspectacular. In August, Cassierra joined Sochi amid reported interest from West Bromwich Albion. The transfer to Russia was for a reported 1.2 million euros. That fee would likely require an increase due to his outstanding performance and contract lasting through 2023. While, again, there are no stated links to the Red Bulls, the thought of the club being the involved party seems reasonable. Cassierra is a physical, direct striker with an excellent pedigree whose career has maybe drifted a little off the traditional pathway. Throw in the rumored interest from Scotland and you have a modern-era signing. But, alas, Cassierra seems pretty content living in “the main resort town of Russia.” *** We’re all desperate for an update on Anatole Abang. He was gracious enough to share the inside scoop with Offside Plus. “Azerbaijani clubs have talked to me about the transfer, but I have also received offers from abroad,” said the free agent striker. “There is no exact information yet.” Food has lost its taste, life its meaning. What point is there in going on if we continue to be denied the whereabouts of Abang’s next club? We can wait, we must. Some soon bright shining day shall the news come forth delivered by the blaring of a thousand trumpets. *** The Hoboken Girl (“The go-to Guide for Hoboken”) released the “Ultimate 2022 Hudson County Bucket List.” There are many things to do in New Jersey’s fastest growing county. For example, residents can “Catch a soccer match at the Red Bull Arena in Harrison, home of the New York Red Bulls of Major League Soccer. Here’s a joke that was submitted by Lucia of Bloomfield. “My Ultimate 2022 Bucket List includes spending a few Nights in Rodanthe with Richard Gere.” Thank you, Lucia. What an oddly forgettable film to reference, but perhaps you two could also attend a Red Bulls match. *** 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.