Last year, Red Bull bought the operating rights* to Major League Soccer's Metrostars and completely revamped the team's look, renaming them Red Bull New York. It wasn't the first time - the company did the same thing with Austrian club SV Wüstenrot Salzburg, which became FC Red Bull Salzburg. In preparation for the upcoming MLS season, RBNY is training at their sister team's facility in Salzburg.
Given the common corporate parentage of the two clubs, it would make sense for them to get together for a light scrimmage, right? Well:
The game between the visiting New York Red Bulls and the Red Bull Salzburg reserve team, postponed on Saturday because of stormy weather, was played Monday afternoon at the Salzburg team’s training center — Taxham. It was 90 minutes of contentious soccer, won by the Salzburg reserves, 1-0, on a second half goal, but more notable for chippy fouls and ill-tempered play.I bet the Red Bull Christmas party will be a little tense this year!
'I really think their intention was to hurt our guys from the get-go,' RBNY goalkeeper Jon Conway said after the game.
On that score, Salzburg succeeded. The NYRB second-year midfielder Dane Richards was hacked down early in the first half and was forced to leave the game, replaced by the rookie Luke Sassano. He was fitted with a knee brace and hobbled to the team bus with what team officials described as a sprained medial collateral ligament in his right knee.
'They just wanted to get someone and they did,' said Conway, who played the first 45 minutes as Coach Juan Carlos Osorio changed 10 players for the second half. 'We’re the guys from the States and I think they thought they had something to prove. That’s O.K.'
The NYRB captain Claudio Reyna, who began his professional career in 1994 with Bayer Leverkusen in Germany, said he was familiar with the approach of the Salzburg team, but was still outraged by the early fury on the field.
'They’re diving cheats,' Reyna said, not mincing words.
* Remember, in MLS, the league actually owns all the teams, but farms out the operation to private investors.