The 2017 season brings an opportunity for the New York Red Bulls to improve upon a strong campaign last year, moving towards capturing the franchise’s first MLS Cup title. One player that head coach Jesse Marsch will be counting on to contribute in a push for a championship will be forward Fredrik Gulbrandsen.
Expectations for Fredrik Gulbrandsen at New York Red Bulls
The 24-year-old joined New York on loan from Red Bull Salzburg, but has managed to make quite an impact in a short period of time. The Norwegian international has made two appearances for the club thus far, including starting alongside Bradley Wright-Phillips in the team’s 4-2-2-2 formation at the Seattle Sounders this past weekend.
Gulbrandsen began his career at Lillestrom SK in his native Norway, before signing with Molde FK in the summer of 2013. It is there that the young striker’s ability began to truly shine. In 2014, he scored 14 goals across all competitions in leading Molde to a Tippeligaen title.
Possessing great pace and a quality touch on the ball, Gulbrandsen became a handful for opposing defenses to deal with. Despite his diminutive size, Gulbrandsen’s positioning and ability to create space brought both his club and himself great success.
With a desire to move away from the 4-2-3-1 alignment that has been a trademark of Marsch’s time at Red Bull Arena, New York may have found the right fit to carry out their manager’s plan for the top of line-up.
Partnership with BWP
Their time together has been limited and there is certainly only a small sample size to go by, but there have been promising signs between Gulbrandsen and Wright-Phillips.
The Norwegian has been able to pull defenders away from the Red Bulls’ star striker, and that quality was a helpful element to the team’s goal against the Sounders on Sunday.
From Sal Zizzo’s excellent cross, Wright-Phillips was able to find enough room in the penalty area to direct a wonderful header into the back of the net. As the two play together more, an even greater understanding could lead to strong production in the final third.
The current season is extremely important for Gonzalo Veron, as New York’s designated player continues to battle injuries and adapt to his role within the squad.
His return to the field is still uncertain at this time, but Fredrik Gulbrandsen offers the Red Bulls an excellent option until he can play again.
Jesse Marsch has used others at the top of the line-up already, including Derrick Etienne and even Sacha Kljestan. However, Gulbrandsen’s skillset may be exactly what is needed for positive results to materialize.
More success with a loan this time around
Player movement between New York and other Red Bull-owned clubs in Europe has not taken place often since the company acquired the Metrostars in 2006. But now, a forward has come into the side from their European counterparts for a second consecutive season.
2016’s loan move for Omer Damari from RB Leipzig seemed promising, but ultimately did not work successfully. Both Damari and Gulbrandsen found playing time difficult to come by at Leipzig and Salzburg respectively, with New York an idea that made sense for all involved.
Fredrik Gulbrandsen will have more time in Harrison than summer-signing Damari did a year ago, and a familiarity with the Red Bulls’ high-press system should help his overall production. Gulbrandsen has taken to the field quickly since arriving this month, and the New York Red Bulls will be expecting more and more from the talented forward ahead.