With so much happening with this Red Bulls team in terms of comings and goings, its really hard to predict what they will look like in 2021. But perhaps the most crucial part left (after BWP, Robles, and Parker departures) is now being pulled at, and that is our midfield. Before things get wide of us again, let’s see what has happened, is happening and what could happen in 2021’s midfield.
- We lost Rzatkowski: After three years with his first year on loan, we said goodbye to Marc Rzatkowski as the team released via contract expiration. We lose his set pieces, his vision, his versatility and his all-around play. a key cog who kept rigor in our midfield while also providing a spark that could turn a game around any given night.
- Kaku’s situation: high profile entry, high profile semi-exit. A lot of issues held up Kaku’s arrival here in the first place, such as an ex agent wanting commission and the club demanding that said agent not take legal action. but he finally arrived here and was an instant difference-maker in the playmaking role while pulling an all-around game to keep things energetic and working
in the Red Bulls’ midfield. From what I have gathered, the team did not inform Kaku of an option exercise in time and so he looked elsewhere without informing the club. He found Al-Taawoun, one of the higher-end Saudi clubs in the top flight. The Rd Bulls then disputed it, say that there was never any deal done on the negotiating table. However, Al-Taawoun was granted an International Transfer Certificate (ITC) meaning that, at least for the time being, the Red Bulls have lost their playmaker.
- Who steps in: at the moment there appear to be a lot of viable options; in fact, the only locked down spots are Danny Royer on the wing and captain Sean Davis in defensive midfield. Someone who is similar to Kaku, albeit more hardworking, that can step in as a 10 as a proven passer is Florian Valot. He can also play alongside Davis although that, more likely than not, will be reserved for Cristian Casseres, Jr., who can step in to the playmaking role as well. For pure offensive spark, though, I would turn to our wonderkid, Caden Clark. His 3 goals in 8 games really lit up the MLS scene, especially when the first goal is the winner on his debut. Davis will provide deep-lying duties as he already takes our set-pieces. Expect a 4-2-3-1 or what I like to call a “trip set”, 4-2-2-2. You can also expect a 4-4-2 or a 4-3-3, but don’t think that those will show this team’s true dynamic play as either the center midfielders or the winger face getting overworked, their offensive skills and qualities held back, or both.