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Freezing in Austria (Matchday at Red Bull Salzburg)

I’m coming to you from the Red Bull Salzburg-Wacker Innsbruck match in Salzburg Austria and there are definitely moments where you can imagine this being a Red Bulls match in Red Bull Park two years from now. Well, except for the whole everything being in German thing.

It’s a cold Wednesday night, a Champions League night, and this match was rescheduled after Saturday’s snow storm. Despite all that there is a pretty lively, if small, crowd. That’s the thing about soccer-specific stadium done right. Even when you don’t get a full crowd of 25 to 30,000 you can still have great atmosphere. I would put tonight’s crowd at about 12-15,000.

The best part of the stadium? The supporter’s section, which looks to have concrete pillars instead of regular seats. It is also guarded from projectiles by a net and a phalanx of security on each side. Will this be the setup in Red Bull Park? I can already see the Screaming Eagles filling a corner of Red Bull Park with all that protection around them.

The soccer is pretty good, with some sharp passing from both sides. The artificial turf surface makes for some quick ball movement and Salzburg does a good job of keeping the ball on the ground. No goles through 30 minutes but it’s been entertaining.

I will say that I am more intrigued than ever to see a Salzburg-Red Bull New York match. The Red Bulls are scrimmaging Salzburg’s senior team on Thursday, but only players who don’t play much tonight, so that won’t tell us much. I think a full-strength Red Bulls team would match up well with Red Bull Salzburg.

I’ll give Salzburg manager Giovanni Trappatoni credit, it feels like it’s 20 degrees out and he’s wearing just a suit. Me? I’m wrapped up in a wool blanket (l didn’t bring a winter coat to Austria. Yes, I’m a genius). Also deserving some credit is Red Bull Salzburg defender Jorge Vargas, the only Salzburg player wearing a short-sleeve jersey. Yes, he’s crazy.

Interesting note about Vargas. I’ve spoken to him a few times during the trip and he admitted that Bruce ARena had inquired about acquiring him a year ago, but Trapattoni wanted to keep him. It should noted that Vargas’ contract expires at the end of this Austrian season and he told me that he would be interested in joining the Red Bulls. The only problem, I would imagine, is that the Red Bulls wouldn’t be able to afford him.

I’ll offer a more detailed report of my game-day experience in Salzburg. I just wanted to give you guys some insight into what it’s like here.


  1. I always felt that Reyna’s rep as a creative playmaker was always overstated. He has always played much more of a steady, settling, defensive role than a classic attacking number 10.

    He had a very good first touch, he was able to settle, distribute and play a strong possession game. He could win balls and he was also pretty good at chipping the ball to teammates in the box – that was probably his best attacking skill.

    If you think about it, though, he almost NEVER ran at defenders, his shot was average at best, and was almost famously timid in the offensive zone. For years, everyone must recall, the book on playing USA was to knock Reyna down, get physical with him and watch him disappear. He had some wonderful matches in our quarterfinal run, notably against Mexico, but even in that game he was more of a ball winner and smart distributor than an attacking, beat-my-man, creative force.

    He may have been our best midfielder ever, but he was far from the most creative attacking midfielder ever. O’Brien, Ramos, Dempsey, and even Donovan have shown much more creativity than Reyna in their careers though they may not be as good all-around players.

    RBNY DOES, in my opinion, need an attacking midfielder. Reyna’s skills, never, world-class in that particular area anyway, seem to have completely deserted him of late.

  2. boomtime:

    Are you his agent?

    Shouldn’t he have shown just a little bit more last season before he made the jump to being a Serbian Roy Keane this year?

  3. How is Ubiparipovic playing in Austria? This year is his coming out party. I hope everyone is ready. He reminds me of a serbian Roy Keane; Making attacking runs from defensive midfield, sound defending, leg breaking tackles and scoring the occasional wonder goal. This kid is the real deal.

  4. I’m w aristotle on the reyna comment. It seems jco has given Reyna some chances in the playmaker role this preseason and it sounds like he’s played real well. We are still a few players short of competing for the SS maybe, but I’m pretty juiced about this season. I never liked Arena and I think his negative affect on team chemistry really hurt us last yr and I’m optimistic it will be much better under jco. Particularly the D.

  5. “RBNY needs to find a playmaker asap”

    This seems to be a common point of view among NYRB fans. Doesn’t anyone else find this just a little bit amusing?

    NYRB has a DP by the name of Claudio Reyna who is the best creative midfielder the U.S. national team has ever had. (Although I really did like Tab Ramos.) Yet, they really need a play maker. What happened to Claudio Reyna’s creative ability? I know playing overseas caused him to switch positions, but to me this was always his best position, especially when you consider our other options. I think my biggest beef with players going overseas to play is that sometimes they get converted into different types of players. PSV did this with Beasley for a while.

    Is all of Claudio’s creativity gone? I thought that was a natural talent.

  6. RBNY needs to find aplaymaker asap. Ives how about bringing in Ivan Kaviedes from Ecuador? He played in the world cup and is available. Please let Osorio know.

  7. Ives, it seems like there is very little going on regarding player aquisition. Marmol’s right belong to Chicago & Mendoza isn’t worth it. On top of that, the Great Dane is hurt. Any chance of aquiring any players at all before April 5? I’m finding it very hard to get excited about the upcoming season. I try to be an optimist, but improved play by Carlos Mendes does not make a season ticket worth the cost.

  8. Ives:

    As I said in my post, I wasn’t saying that it was tough soccer. I was directing the comments at the people who posted saying that it was just “tougher” soccer in Austria and Europe, and that we needed to suck it up.

  9. Are there any plans for RB Salzburg to do their pre-season training in New York? Have there been scrimmages in the past between the two sides?

  10. Maybe I’m insane, and maybe it’s just me, but just because both teams are owned by one company doesn’t seem like a good reason for a team to do any of their pre-season training in Austria in the dead of winter.

  11. This sounds like a great tradition that should continue fo RBNY. Ives, is there anything that makes it easier for RBNY to get RB Salzburg players other than the same ownership group? (i.e. discovery claims, trade agreement, etc.) After the final result, can you try to predict how it would have changed if Jozy weren’t enjoying himself in sunny Florida? Thanks.

  12. Aristotle, the Salzburg reserves were hacks. At least a few of them were. It was pointless, crude tackling, not tough soccer.

    It should be noted that none of those hacks, or any players from Monday, are in uniform for Salzburg tonight.

  13. The soccer is pretty good? I don’t get it. (This is directed at the people who think the scrimmage problem for the U.S. the other day was because the U.S. isn’t tough enough.) I thought Salzberg and the Europeans played scrappy, tough, bone crushing games because they are so tough? Is it possible they just decided to play that way against RBNY? Yes, I know that was just the reserves, but I find it hard to believe that they would be two completely different teams.


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