Alejandro ‘Kaku’ Gamarra, Netflix and new faces on this all-too-critical ESNY New York Red Bulls preseason update.
New York Red Bulls young midfielder Derrick Etienne Jr. tweeted about preseason on Monday.
Lol preseason life consists of Netflix, Fifa, and sleeping and two a days
— Derrick Etienne Jr 🇭🇹 (@detienne_10) January 29, 2019
Preseason has been a little more action-packed than that this year for the Red Bulls.
For starters, star midfielder Alejandro ‘Kaku’ Gamarra wanted to transfer out of the club to join Mexican powerhouse Club America due to the idea that the La Liga MX side found NYRB’s price for the 24-year-old far too high. Kaku’s agent Gustavo Casasola bashed the three-time Supporters’ Shield champions, comparing them to Adolf Hitler.
Elsewhere, New York’s second draft pick Janos Loebe was converted from forward to defense and Marc Rzatkowski made an exciting return to the club.
The Red Bulls are only 13 days into their preseason, but let’s take an in-depth look at what’s been going on in their preparation for the season thus far:
Red Bulls’ lockdown on Kaku
After a little over a month of negotiating, New York finally acquired rising star Kaku from Argentine club Huracan on Feb. 16, 2018, for $6.5 million. The playmaker was worth the fight The Metros put up for him as he led the team in assists in the MLS, tallying 14 assists in 30 appearances.
Nevertheless, 11 months after signing Kaku, ESPN Mexico reported that the Paraguay international was on America’s radar and he longed to join them. Kaku’s agent, Casasola, made a strong claim that the Red Bulls originally agreed to transfer the youngster out for $6.5 million to $7 million but later asked for $12 million, which America refused to pay.
Casasola went as far as saying that the Red Bulls were acting similarly to Hitler because they were unwilling to let his client leave the club as they changed their original price.
“Never forget that everything Hitler did was legal, and there are a lot of things that are legal but are arbitrary, amoral, unethical and unjust,” he said in a phone interview with Fox Deportes.
Kaku’s agent backed up his accusation even more by claiming that the club didn’t pay for the youngster’s Uber ride, nor for his furniture.
The Metros made no comment on Casasola’s allegation. As for Kaku, he expressed that his team was treating him unfairly.
“We want them [NYRB] to earn money and recover what they invested so that we are all happy, but I think the price is not reasonable,” the MLS star told Ricardo Carino of ESPN Mexico.
“They show that they love me in their team and it’s nice but I know it’s not all in words,” he said.
It was speculated that the midfielder wasn’t showing up to practice, but New York made sure they posted videos and pictures of their playmaker at practice.
RBNY’s social media sensation Matt joked about the saga, using one of the pictures of Kaku the club tweeted.
— Matt (@Metros96) January 28, 2019
America signed attacking midfielder Nicolas Benedetti on Tuesday. Hence, perhaps the Argentina native is no longer one of their targeted players. However, it won’t be a surprise if Kaku won’t be wearing the Red Bulls’ white and red color next season.
“Do not give up, sometimes the last key is the one that opens the door,” the playmaker tweeted on Jan. 23.
The players want to perform better than their record-breaking season of last year
What’s a preseason without some inspiring goals? The players aren’t shy to say they want to outdo their previous campaign, which is a bit brave considering that they scored the most points ever in an MLS campaign in 2018, notching 71 points out of 102 via a W-L-T record of 22-7-5.
The club was also the best defensive team last year as they conceded 33 goals in 34 games. Nevertheless center back Tim Parker thinks he and his teammates can allow even fewer goals this year.
“I think, personally, for sure [the best MLS defense can get better],” Parker told Andrew Vazzano of NewYorkRedBulls.com. “Defensively, as a team, we can do a lot more to prevent MLS goals. We’re going to challenge each other to be better in those moments.”
Right back Michael Amir Murillo longs to improve collectively as well. “This year, we’re going to be better than we were last year,” he told the club.
Getting better surely doesn’t mean racking more points than they did last year, it means winning the league, which would be their first MLS Cup.
“Unfortunately we didn’t have the results we wanted against Atlanta,” the 22-year-old said.
Red Bulls suffered a heartbreaking 3-1 loss on aggregate to Atlanta United in the Eastern Conference final last season.
“Now we know the errors we have to correct to achieve the objective we have set out, which is to reach the MLS Cup final,” Murillo continued.
Outside the league, Chris Armas’ men were eliminated out of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open in the round of 16 by Philadelphia Union through a 2-1 loss and were knocked out of the CONCACAF Champions League in the semifinals by Guadalajara, falling to them 1-0 on aggregate.
New York will start their Champions League campaign on Feb. 20 in an away match versus Dominican Republic side Atletico Pantoja.
Armas is eager to lead the team to the final after coming so close last year.
“No Major League Soccer team lifted that trophy yet, it’s a lot to play for,” the 46-year-old said in an interview with a New York Red Bulls reporter.
He later added: “If you want to call it unfinished business [after losing in the semifinals last season], yeah, it’s a trophy out there we want to make a good push for.”
New faces, new old face Rzatkowski, and missing face Meara
Red Bulls signed three players during the preseason camp: attacking midfielder Marc Rzatkowski, who returned after joining the club on loan last year, former Philadelphia winger Marcus Epps, left winger Omir Fernandez, a 19-year-old who netted five goals in four outings for the U-23 team.
Rzatkowski was on loan with the club last season, racking 33 appearances and netting three goals, including a winner versus Club Tijuana in the Champions League.
As for the draft picks from the offseason, 22nd-overall pick Loebe is surprisingly lining-up at left back in the preseason camp after playing forward for Fordham University.
The team’s first draft pick– 16th overall pick– defender Roy Boateng is playing his primary position and opened up on how much he’s enjoying the learning experience from the training camp.
“It’s been a really good experience so far,” Boateng said in an interview with the club. “I think it’s a lot faster than college. In college, we press but not like this. Not like this tempo. I think that’s the biggest difference, incorporating us defenders into the press.”
On another note, second-choice keeper Ryan Meara had to leave the training camp on Wednesday after picking up a knee injury.
Red Bulls are 1W-1L in their scrimmages
New York got the best out of Swedish club IF Elfsborg 2-1 in their first scrimmage on Jan. 26th. The Red Bulls were the first team to concede as Elforsg opened the scoring with a penalty kick. Daniel Royer then netted two goals for the Red Bulls, tapping Murillo’s cross from close range before converting a penalty.
The Metros bowed down to the Union 3-2 in their second scrimmage on Wednesday. Philadelphia scored three unanswered goals. NYRB attempted to make a comeback.
Alex Muyl scored from the spot. Amro Tarek banged a header home to make it 3-2 but the team ran out of time and left the pitch on a losing note.