Fábio, Diarra find new clubs as Red Bulls rack up one-season wonders


In 2004, the BBC conducted a fan survey of each Football League club for the “cult hero” in their team’s history. In the Cardiff City poll the winner was not John Toshack, the imposing center-forward who would go on to become famous as a player with Liverpool and as a manager with Real Madrid. Nor was it Robert Earnshaw, who left the club’s academy to score 100 goals for bluebirds at the end of the 90s.

The winner with the votes of 41% of terminally ill Cardiff fans online was Robin Friday, a skillful and aggressive striker… who only scored six goals in a single season with the club in the mid-1970s. A meager production on paper, Friday lingers in the hearts and minds of South Wales fans with an outgoing playstyle matched with an equally eye-catching personality. His acrobatic goals (mostly not filmed) are still mythologized, and his obscene ‘V-sign’ touching a recently victimized goalie is commemorated on the cover of a single from local indie rock legends Super Furry Animals. Although Friday’s impetuosity eventually turned into alcohol and drug abuse that shortened his career and life (he died in 1990 at just 38), the power of his mind was sufficient for it. outweigh the statistics of Cardiff and former club Reading, whose cult hero he also interviewed. won despite staying for only two years.

In a sport like soccer where hundreds and thousands of professional clubs around the world are constantly brewing staff, the specter of the possibility that even a popular and productive player can leave with minimal ceremony is ever present. In a capped and rigged league like MLS, that dynamic can be even more pronounced, as the New York Red Bulls and their fans can attest with recent figures like Luke Rodgers, Fabian Espindola and Armando Lozano playing major roles. before leaving the following winter. The club and their fans get a taste of the momentum again this particular offseason.

Friday afternoon, Clube Atlético Mineiro announced the signing of striker Fábio Gomes Netto, who just finished a year on loan with the Red Bulls that didn’t end in a permanent signing. The transfer of the 6’4 “target man would net his parent club Oeste (who fell to the Third Division in his absence) $ 1.5 million for” 50% of his economic rights, “a price New York City clearly wasn’t willing to pay to meet after just one season of the Brazilian’s evaluation.

But like Robin Friday, Fábio is more likely than most single-season players to linger in the imaginations of Red Bull fans for a while. With his slim, towering figure covered in tattoos and topped with a tuft of often bleached hair, the forward was an obvious visual focal point on the pitch before a ball was kicked. But it was also his frenzied playstyle, with his long legs circling all over the pitch in the service of offensive runs and defensive shutdowns, that captured the attention of New York fans. Although he contributed just seven goals in his lone season in Gotham, the final victories over Montreal and Nashville in the season-ending playoff pursuit were among the rare cathartic moments of a season’s season. Red Bulls which has generally not been launched.

It was no surprise that Fabio had become one of the most popular players in the new Red Bulls squad reunited by Kevin Thelwell and Gerhard Struber in early 2021. But towards the end of the season, a combination of injuries, a lack of goals scored and the difficulties in combined play as the team changed formation made his permanent signing potential less evident. On a personal level, his time in New York as part of a European management program was a boon for his career, allowing him to make a step towards the reigning Brazilian champions at Atlético, where he will line up alongside international stars such as the Hulk and Eduardo Vargas as the top tier of his home country.

In the meantime, more and more lenders are confirming their departure from the Red Bulls in the new year. Saturday morning it was announced which Youba Diarra had signed for the second time with Austrian club TSV Hartberg after an injury-plagued season in New York on loan from Red Bull Salzburg. Mali’s junior international defensive midfielder was lively in his scarce minutes and received praise from former youth coach Gerhard Struber, but the 22-year-old who won $ 398,000 in 2021 was ultimately deemed not to be worth another year of high risk. Left-handed defender Andrew Gutman’s status unclear as he returns to Atlanta United‘s roster, but a combination of George Bello transfer rumors and the New York side’s lack of buzz about the negotiations for a comeback he will likely be single as well. wonder of the season at Harrison.

One 2021 Red Bulls lender whose New York return window may still be slightly open is Tom Edwards. The England defender returned to his hometown club of Stoke City at the end of 2021, set to fight for a first-team spot, but was the only lapsed loan player with whom the Red Bulls have officially declared that they were still negotiating after the MLS season. The chances of such negotiations going in New York’s favor may have been bolstered this week by news that Edwards will miss the next two months with a knee injury, dealing a heavy blow to his chances to break into Stoke’s lineup at the end of the crucial season. period. While the two-month layoff would cover most of MLS’s preseason, the Red Bulls would still be more than happy to bring back a player who has established himself as a reliable and versatile leader in a young team. from 2021.

The “try-before-you-buy” approach pursued by athletic director Kevin Thelwell who secured the loans last winter was a strategy that successfully reversed the logistical difficulties of covid to bring a desperately needed wave of new talent into the world. what had become a stale side of New York. The most successful of the loaned players, Brazilian goalkeeper Carlos Coronel, has been definitively signed from Salzburg and looks set to keep the net at Harrison for years to come. But the inevitable downside of not holding the contract for nearly half of their favorite starting XI now has the Red Bulls back on the drawing board in several positions until 2022.


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