The second international break in as many months could not have come at a worse time for Red Bull clubs. While New York Red Bulls II’s season ended under a fortnight ago after a defeat to eventual USL Cup champions, Louisville City, the other four teams enter the break with momentum having achieved victories at the weekend.
When domestic action came to a halt last month, Liefering had just lost the second in what became a five-game run of defeats. This time, the streak was, at last, abolished in fine fashion as a Dominik Szoboszlai hat-trick helped defeat Wacker Innsbruck II 4-1 on Friday.
Before a hard-fought win on the road to Austria Vienna, a convincing result in Trondheim during the week meant that Red Bull Salzburg are now not only within just one point of qualification to the knockout stage, but they sit atop of the Europa League’s eternal standings with 117 points in 64 matches (on par with Villarreal, but have two games in hand and a superior goal difference) since the competition’s makeover in 2009. In addition, Die Roten Bullen is the only team in Europe’s top 15 leagues to still be unbeaten in all competition this season, with 21 wins and four draws in 25 matches.
Meanwhile, across the Atlantic Ocean and into the United States, this break is a huge hindrance for New York Red Bulls. Avoiding the “that’s so metro” cliché by overturning 1-0 first-leg deficit against Columbus Crew to reach the club’s first Eastern Conference finals, Chris Armas and his squad must now wait under two weeks to face Atlanta United, who will be seeking revenge for their Supporters’ Shield disappointment. In the meantime, two key figures in Tyler Adams and MLS Defender of the Year, Aaron Long, will endure stern tests against England and Italy.
Returning to central Europe, RB Leipzig are having an excellent season to date. Positioned third in the table, one point behind second-placed, Borussia Mönchengladbach, Leipzig have the best defensive record in the league with nine goals conceded in eleven games, which is impressive considering seven of them came in the first three, and the most clean sheets (six).
Irrespective of Liefering’s poor run of form, Kim Jung-min has received a surprise first national team call-up for South Korea’s friendlies against Australia and Uzbekistan. Marcel Sabitzer has been forced to withdraw from Austria’s squad due to a thigh strain, while Amadou Haidara will remain as he recovers from a knee injury that sidelined him at the weekend.
Timo Werner (Germany), Bruma (Portugal), Péter Gulácsi (Hungary), Willi Orban (Hungary), Stefan Ilsanker (Austria), Konrad Laimer (Austria), Yussuf Poulsen (Denmark), Yvon Mvogo (Switzerland), Dayot Upamecano (France U20), Nordi Mukiele (France U20), Matheus Cunha (Brazil U20), Julian Krahl (Germany U19)
Red Bull Salzburg
Enock Mwepu (Zambia), Patson Daka (Zambia), Takumi Minamino (Japan), Cican Stanković (Austria), Stefan Lainer (Austria), Andreas Ulmer (Austria), Xaver Schlager (Austria), Munas Dabbur (Israel), Diadie Samassékou (Mali), Jérôme Onguéné (Cameroon), Marin Pongračić (Croatia U21), Jérôme Onguéné (Cameroon), Hannes Wolf (Austria U21)
Kim Jung-min (South Korea), Peter Pokorný (Slovakia U20), Phillip Köhn (Switzerland U20), Dominik Szoboszlai (Hungary U19)
New York Red Bulls
Aaron Long (United States), Tyler Adams (United States), Alejandro Romero Gamarra (Paraguay), Derrick Etienne, Jr. (Haiti), Michael Murillo (Panama), Kemar Lawrence (Jaimaca), Fidel Escobar, Christian Casseres (Venezuela U20)
New York Red Bulls II