On 1-Year Loan From Salzburg, Norwegian Striker Could End Up As Complement To BWP The Team Has Needed

By Peter Schwartz
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Fredrik Gulbrandsen moved into his apartment in Jersey City on Thursday, but he is no stranger to living in the New York/New Jersey area.

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In fact, the newest Red Bull and his girlfriend, Malene, have called New York City home on a couple of prior occasions.

“Of course, it’s an amazing city to live in,” Gulbrandsen said of the Big Apple. “We’re just looking forward to the future here.”

For now, the future of the Norwegian forward is this season after he was acquired by the Red Bulls on a year-long loan from FC Red Bull Salzburg back on March 10.

He has played in both Red Bulls games since his arrival, a 1-0 win in the home opener over Colorado followed by a 3-1 loss in Seattle last week. This Saturday, Gulbrandsen and the Red Bulls look to turn the page on this past Sunday’s result when they welcome Real Salt Lake to Red Bull Arena for a 4 p.m. kickoff.

“It’s always important after a loss that we need to bounce back,” Gulbrandsen said. “It’s also good to play at home in front of all the fans and it’s a good atmosphere. I’m looking forward to it.”

Fredrik Gulbrandsen

Red Bulls striker Fredrik Gulbrandsen (Photo: NY Red Bulls)

Last season, Gulbrandsen recorded two goals and an assist in nine league matches, while also suiting up for Salzburg in the UEFA Champions League qualification, Europa League and the Austrian Cup. He joins a Red Bulls team with high expectations this season after back-to-back Eastern Conference regular season titles.

“I can already see that there’s a lot of talent and a lot of good players on the team,” the 24-year-old striker said. “It’s a winning club. You feel it when you go into the training facility. Everybody’s talking like we want to win, not just the conference but also go to the playoffs and win the playoffs.”

Gulbrandsen has been able to fit right in because he is already familiar with the Red Bulls’ system, having played for FC Red Bulls Salzburg.

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What has made his transition even more seamless has been a strong relationship right off the bat with Red Bulls head coach Jesse Marsch and the rest of the staff. So far, everyone is on the same page.

“The coaches are amazing,” Gulbrandsen said. “I had a good talk with Jesse before I came here. I think this team has a lot of the qualities needed to win in the playoffs, so I have faith in the team.”

The Red Bulls are off to a 2-1 start, but they’ve been in search of some added offense to complement Bradley Wright-Phillips, who notched his 70th career MLS goal during the loss to Seattle.

Gulbrandsen started alongside BWP and, in time, should be able to provide a solid touch around the net as part of a potent 1-2 combination. He came to the Red Bulls with 34 goals and 13 assists in 144 professional appearances.

“It’s been a very good start here for me,” Gulbrandsen said. “It’s a good team and a great group of players, so I was excited to come here and I excited to be here. It’s been a good start and I’m looking forward to playing more.”

Gulbrandsen started his professional career in 2008, playing for his home town team Lillestrom in Norway. In 2013, he moved on to Molde, another club in Norway, spending three season there before moving onto FC Red Bull Salzburg. Now, he’s giving Major League Soccer a chance. He said the level of play is better than some people abroad given it credit.

“Some say in Europe that the level is not so good, but it’s my opinion that it’s been a lot better over the years,” Gulbrandsen said. “I think that it’s a good level here and it develops and gets better every year. I was excited to come here and looking forward to playing here and I think the level is very good.”

As the Red Bulls continue their quest for MLS Cup, they just may have found a missing ingredient in a championship recipe. In Gulbrandsen, the Red Bulls appear to have a veteran forward that has an understanding of the type of soccer that is played in this system. He also loves living in the New York area, so maybe that one-year loan could turn into a longer stay down the road.

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Don’t forget to follow Pete on Twitter at @pschwartzcbsfan. You can also follow @NewYorkRedBulls and @gulbrandsen92