HARRISON, N.J. — For Alejandro ‘Kaku’ Romero Gamarra, the 2019 season was a tale of two very different parts. The first was filled with controversy and drama, and the second was more centered around his on-the-field exploits.
A big reason for that was due to an outside distraction that began in preseason.
Kaku is heading into his second offseason with the New York Red Bulls, and he is hoping it goes smoother than the last. The 24-year-old playmaker was embroiled in a transfer saga after drawing interest from Liga MX side Club America, and his initial frustrations with not securing a switch admittedly affected his play and in turn that of the Red Bulls.
“I think that’s a bit where the team got sidetracked, which is why I apologized to Chris (Armas), to Denis (Hamlett), to the team,” Kaku told SBI last week. “I don’t think that was my intention. That’s why during the last six months I gave it my all and it was reflected on the field, which was the best thing.”
“I think it became a very big topic because of all of the interest the Mexican teams and Club America generate,” Kaku added. “I also made bad decisions and there were also problems over everything because they didn’t come to an agreement and the things weren’t communicated clearly.”
Like the Red Bulls on the whole, Kaku’s level of play in 2019 dipped from where it was a season ago. The Paraguayan international finished this year with five goals and six assists in 26 league appearances, numbers that all reflect a drop in production from a debut MLS campaign that saw him record six goals and 14 assists in 30 games.
How much that influences potential suitors from abroad this winter remains to be seen. Nonetheless, Kaku is open to potentially transferring elsewhere this offseason — so long as it benefits everyone involved.
“Yes, yes, yes. I’d like to go to Europe, but that also depends on the Red Bulls,” said Kaku when asked if he still wants to play elsewhere overseas at some point in his career. “I still have another year on my contract and they have the option to choose what they want to do.
“Like I have said before, I would like to leave here on a good note, like I did with Huracan, and that they can get a lot of money, that they can become a better club, and the desire of all of us is that they can win the cup. It’s what we all want.”
What the Red Bulls want right now is to take their time planning for 2020. The roster compliance date is not until Nov. 21, and club officials want to use these next few weeks to have honest conversations about where things stand before deciding which players they want to count on for next year.
“The season just ended and we’re going to take our time and make sure we have the right discussions with the right decisions,” Hamlett, the sporting director, said last week when asked about the situation of right back Michael Amir Murillo. “We’re not going to rush into anything just because a player says he wants to go to Europe. If he’s under contract, we’ll take our time and do what’s best for us. That’s the key.”
As for Kaku, the focus for the immediate future is on resting and recovering. The midfielder suffered an injury in the playoff loss to the Philadelphia Union earlier this month that he said will keep him inactive for eight weeks. He plans to heal during that time, as well as visit his father and go on vacation with his family.
What happens after that, and whether he remains a Red Bulls player, is to be determined.
“I’ll return for preseason with the team and I think Denis will then decide what happens with my future,” said Kaku. “This time I have to manage things better so that there aren’t as many problems. Like I’ve said before, my family is very happy here and I am too. I have a good time, I enjoy it here, but it isn’t up to me.
“It’s up to my agent and also the club executives and what they want to do, and see what’s the best option for everyone.”