RAVEN MACK is a mystic poet-philosopher-artist of the Greater Appalachian unorthodox tradition. He does have an amazing PATREON, but also *normal* ARTIST WEBSITE too.

Wednesday, July 22

14-Man Micro-Metaphysical Roster: NEW YORK RED BULLS

{MLS ultras are somewhat extra}

[14-Man Micro-Metaphysical Roster is a football metaphysics methodology calculating minutes played per the last 50 competitive matches for a North American football club, weighting that shit more heavily for most recent matches, and using them calculations to list the 14 players constituting the strongest psychic force on a club’s current path. This is done at Football Metaphysics Space twice a month for the Premier League clubs in England, and now I’m doing it for the top clubs in North America, two per month. Pay me for my emotionless labor paypal.me/dirtgod or venmo @ravenmack23]

The MLS is Back tournament has mostly been an MLS is Bad tournament, to be honest. Two clubs actually dropped out before even playing, due to mass positive Covid tests. In terms of generating excitement, as somebody who has watched a lot of the world’s football working from home since leagues got cranked back up in empty stadiums, and MLS has looked not much better than collegiate soccer. I live in Charlottesville, home to the University of Virginia’s soccer programs, both of which are nationally known and have won championships. Mostly though, the men’s team is famous because Bruce Arena, Bob Bradley, and others all came through here. This is where Arena developed his methods, and thus his iron grip on U.S. soccer, of which Bob Bradley is also part of at this point. As a Swansea City supporter, I can never forgive Bob Bradley for his arrogance and incompetence in assuming his footballing genius level was far above what it actually was. Nonetheless, I am here back on my solo 14-man micro-metaphysics tip, and next on my shopping list of North American clubs to dig into is the New York Red Bulls, who are a longtime MLS franchise with much relative success, and also sponsored and owned by a fucking energy drink company, along with other clubs in Germany, Austria, and elsewhere. I guess this means they have access to additional talent through this corporate behemothery, but that likely means talent not good enough for elsewhere in the world trickles down to America, and foreign players get to live a good life somewhere in upper New Jersey, playing “soccer”. They’re managed by Chris Armas, an American of Puerto Rican descent who had a long career playing for the Chicago Fire, but grew up on Long Island. He’d been an assistant for the club since 2015, and before that coached women’s soccer at Adelphi University on Long Island. Going back to my UVA memories, I had season tickets for the women’s team for a few years, because it was a highly enjoyable and fundamentally solid form of the world’s football, whereas the men’s team a lot of times was guys with far less talent than they realized going rogue. There’s a reason women’s soccer from America is hugely successful on the world stage, while the men’s team is overrated by its own fans. Anyways, here’s the fucking dumb ass Red Bulls…

#1: SEAN DAVIS – So a guy named Sean from New Jersey is a soccer player in MLS, and also went to college at Duke, where he was a two-time captain, and probable date rapist. I cannot possibly imagine other facts that would make me assume this guy is even worse, other than maybe he is dating a Colombian television personality.

#2: LUIS ROBLES – Robles was the longtime GK for the Red Bulls, and still plays at age 36. But in the offseason this past year, he moved to upstart club Inter Miami, being replaced on the Red Bulls by David Jensen, whom I kind of love to be honest, because he looks like a dirtbag landscaper when his beard is grown in. I never liked Robles much – he was always way too hyped about dumb shit, and I don’t really like the Red Bulls, even less so than my normal MLS dislike. There’s a kayfabe suspension of my MLS dislike that I utilize when watching MLS, with me begrudgingly accepting DC United as my home club. This kayfabe performative watching caused me to actually pretend to myself I was enjoying Wayne Rooney, which was horribly difficult. The brain was forcing myself to be into MLS, but the heart was like “hold up there brain, what the fuck’s going on?” It’s okay though – most of American existence is performative and kayfabed. But even with that kayfabe, I hated Robles, so it’s great he went to Inter Miami, because I hate them probably more than even the New York clubs in MLS. What a manufactured piece of shit.

#3: DANIEL ROYER – An Austrian journeyman winger who played in Austrian, Danish, and German leagues before ending up in America in the summer of 2016, where he has toiled along since, finding a comfortable and low-intensity league to pay well enough to stay active as a professional without getting lost in the lower leagues of Europe. He was the Red Bulls player of the year last year, leading the team in goals and assists, but the club still just barely made the expansive MLS playoffs, and were eliminated immediately in the first round. Being the best footballer on a mediocre American club is not exactly the pinnacle of Austrian footballing success. But the sport’s not made of all pinnacles; there’s a multitude of mediocre sediments to find comfort in as well.

#4: TIM PARKER – Dude is literally from Hicksville. The fourth most metaphysically prominent on this squad (and remember, the second one is in Miami now) is literally from a fucking place called Hicksville. I can’t even type “I hate the Red Bulls” as a simple response, BECAUSE THE CLUB NICKNAME IS A FUCKING ENERGY DRINK! (Can’t wait for an eventual expansion club of The Carolina Monsters, sponsored by a different energy drink. When will the Colorado Rapids become the Colorado CBD Oils?)

#5: AARON LONG – Here is an interactive test for you. Imagine in your mind what an “Aaron Long” would look like. Keep in mind this is an Aaron Long from southern California, albeit the Mojave desert suburbs of San Bernardino County. Then I want you to google “Aaron Long Red Bulls”. HE LOOKS EXACTLY LIKE YOU IMAGINED, DOESN’T HE? Too many living breathing fucking stereotypes in this world.

#6: ALEJANDRO ROMERO GAMARRA – Romero Gammara’s parents are Paraguayan, but he was born and raised in Argentina, where he learned footballing culture as a youth player for Huracan in Buenos Aires. He moved onto their senior club, and became a solid threat for the club, not just in Argentine competition but Copa Libertadores tournaments as well. (If you are looking for fun shit to watch on youtube, look for “Copa Libertadores all goals” videos… that shit’s a joy, especially with some DJ Screw playing at the same time.) He came to New York in the offseason of 2017-18, and I still don’t understand MLS rules. Red Bulls signed him, but somehow had to pay $50K to Atlanta United, because they owned his “discovery rights”, whatever the fuck that means. Major League Soccer is a horrible blend of corporate brand making and colonial thinking, much like America itself. I can’t wait for the post-apocalyptic era of semi-autonomous zones and that version of “Major League Soccer”.

#7: CRISTIAN CASSERES JR. – Casseres is a Venezuelan who’s pops played for the Venezuelan national team back in the day. El Hijo del Cristian Casseres featured prominently for the Red Bull academy II team in 2018, before moving into more time with the senior club last year. He’s only 20, and still on the Venezuelan national team, but hasn’t had an opportunity to appear for his home nation’s senior club, as World Cup 2022 qualifying and all other internationals have been halted currently. Early in his career, his dad was a star for Atletico Venezueula in Caracas, while junior was on the U14 team.

#8: MARC RZATKOWSKI – Rzatkowski is a German who has hit his 30s, and ended up owned by the corporate conglomerate known as Red Bull GmbH, which had him playing for Red Bull Salzburg. They’re a classic big fish in small pond club, one of the dominant ones in Austrian football, so they usually play European continental football, either in the Champions League or Europa League, usually the qualifying rounds of Champions League, and falling into Europa League group stage. In fact, the two seasons Rzatkowski was with them (not prominently though), they competed in Europa League group stage, and in fact made it to the semifinals in 2018. More notably in Rzatkowski’s history is he had a three season stint with antifa football darlings St. Pauli in Germany’s second tier before going to RB Salzburg. So it’s important to remember a guy who was a minor figure in middling domestic leagues in Europe, or solid player for second tier German club, can also be a prominent role player on a major MLS club. I think a lot of U.S. soccer fans don’t have realistic expectations for our place in world football. Shit, it’s not even realistic for North American football. If Mexico and MLS combine into one league with two tiers and relegation, if they don’t cap a certain amount from each league, I’d imagine the top tier would be 2/3 Mexican clubs within five years.

#9: KEMAR LAWRENCE – Kemar Lawrence is the perfect example of a footballer’s metaphysics being too good for the MLS. His father was a legendary Caribbean club GK, Tutus Edwards. Kemar, who is known as “Taxi”, became a Jamaican star as a teen, playing for Harbour View, and brought into the MLS through their outreach programs in the Caribbean. After tryouts or involvement with both the Vancouver Whitecaps and DC United, he finally latched on with the Red Bulls after an impressive preseason trial in 2015. He became such an impressive fixture on the club that it got attention elsewhere, and he moved to Anderlecht, one of Belgium’s top clubs, at the beginning of 2020. His biggest moment was likely for the Jamaican national team, Reggae Boyz, during the Gold Cup in 2017, when he scored on a freekick with his left foot to eliminate continental heavyweights Mexico, although that was all likely engineered so that the USMNT could have the Gold Cup final in Santa Clara be against a non-Latino nation, so that it was closer to an actual home match for the Americans.

#10: AMRO TAREK – There’s usually like a dude or two I become fascinated with on every MLS club, that allows me to pretend to be interested enough to learn shit. For the Red Bulls, Amro Tarek is absolutely one of those guys, because he’s an Egyptian left back who always gets fouls and in fact yellow and red cards far more than your average MLS player. Is it Islamaphobia? Perhaps. Tarek was actually born in Los Angeles, but grew up in Egypt, and first became known at prominent Egyptian club ENPPI as a 17-year-old striker, likely due to sheer talent. He ended up Germany in the second tier, for multiple clubs, and during this time was moved from striker to left back, which explains his all-out philosophy as a defender, being he had incubation period as a striker in Egypt. After returning to Egypt once a La Liga contract with Real Betis never got him any traction on that club, he eventually was loaned to Orlando City, so it was back to America, in 2018, and he’s never left, having gotten traded to New York (lol, “traded”) in December of 2018, and becoming the Red Bulls’ resident enforcer.

#11: KYLE DUNCAN – Duncan’s a Brooklyn kid who was on the Red Bulls academy teams as a kid, and at first declined a contract with their second team so he could pursue European football, which is sign of a dude with a hungry stomach when it comes to football. He signed with a Ligue 2 French club, and played on their B-team, but never cracked the senior squad. After two seasons, he returned to America to sign with Red Bulls, and the effect of European training already made him stand out. He’s about to turn 23, so relatively young, and became a starter right before the pandemic shut things down. He actually scored the first goal of the seasons for the Red Bulls, even as a right back, so might be looking at a strong American career as a player yearning for more, but trapped in being American.

#12: MICHAEL AMIR MURILLO – A Panamanian national who originally joined the Red Bulls on a loan from his native San Francisco club, before being signed officially to the Red Bulls. It didn’t last long, as he transferred to Belgian club Anderlecht in December of last year, which led to a complete Anderlecht purge of the Red Bulls best non-American North American talent apparently (as Kemar Lawrence left for there as well). Murillo was part of Panama’s famous 2018 squad that shocked North America by qualifying, in place of the US team. Murillo started the first two group stage matches for Panama, but got a yellow card in both matches, like a true scrappy ass Global South defender should against the oppressive likes of Belgium and England (their opponents). That meant he was suspended for Panama’s third match against Tunisia, and they didn’t advance to the knockout stages. That performance against Belgium though likely put him on Anderlecht’s radar, which helped him escape American soccer.

#13:  ALEX MUYL – American born and bred, and in fact a “homegrown talent” for the Red Bulls, but also the child of French immigrants in New York City. The Red Bulls youth academy has a loose relationship with Georgetown Hoyas collegiate soccer, and Muyl ended up playing there for a few years before going full time with the Red Bulls, after leading Georgetown in assists all three seasons he played there. One of the hardest missing pieces in the development of U.S. footballers is the lack of a competent feeder system with functional lower tiers, because guys jump out of club culture into a collegiate culture, and it’s an entirely separate model that doesn’t benefit the growth of the players. It’s essentially taking dudes in their late teens/early 20s, and making an all-star team at a college (or less than an all-star team at many colleges), and just cutting them loose like that. Anyways, Muyl is a striker Red Bulls, who appears sparingly for them the past four seasons, including in CONCACAF Champions League play. He’s gotten a dozen goals for the club across all competitions over the course of four full years, which is not terribly impressive I guess, but somebody has to score some fuckin’ goals.

#14: BRIAN WHITE – Another former Duke Blue Devil collegiate player, which means I bet he is called “Bri” a lot. He has become the Red Bulls first choice striker after club legend Bradley Wright-Phillips was injured and aging and honoring his commitments of co-starring in Curb Your Enthusiasm as Larry David’s permanent roommate. Bri is young, white, and an off-brand Landon Donovan, who has never played outside the United States. I’m sure he’ll have a long MLS career because of all this. One place American has definitely been made great again is soccer.

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