Obscure Metro Files: Markus Schopp and Ernst Oebster
December 27, 2013
When Red Bull bought the MetroStars in 2006, it was assumed that having a "sister club" in Austria would prove beneficial to our team's doing. After all, can't Red Bull Salzburg sign players and then loan them to us, circumventing the cap? Wouldn't we be able to pick and choose our riches from Europe's 20th best league?
Apparently not... But it wasn't without trying.
Markus Schopp came to Metro in September of 2006. His pedigree seemed impeccable; a former Austrian World Cup player, he had a stellar career in the Italian and German leagues. Schopp came to Salzburg in 2005, but in a year, was deemed surplus to requirements. So the Austrian club loaned him to Metro, while picking up the bulk of the supposed million-dollar-plus salary. And Schopp failed miserably.
He played just 330 minutes in 2006. The one memory of Schopp's performance was him lying on the field after yet another dive. In 2007, the right midfield spot was his to lose, and lose it he did -- to rookie Dane Richards. Schopp's minute total that year was even smaller: 228, including an unfathomably terrible performance during an Independence Day 4:0 trashing at Houston. He would suit for Metro just once after that. Late in the season, was not even able to make the bench. In fact, Schopp proved to be a huge burden, taking up salary cap space and an international slot on a team desperate for both. After the season, he mercifully retired, citing a bad back. Good riddance.
Flash forward to the following offseason. Metro went on to train in Austria, which had two side effects: Richards got injured on a horrific tackle by a player from the supposed "sister club", and new coach Juan Carlos Osorio fell in love with a left midfielder named Ernst Oebster. The Austrian youth international made his league debut at 17, but at 24, was deemed not good enough for Salzburg's first team. A loan, Osorio thought. Let's work with our siblings to get us a loan! Salzburg would have none of it. They would rather Oebster play for the reserves than help Metro.
So Osorio waited until the next summer, when Oebster was finally out of contract. Now free to move, he came over on trial, and told the NY Post that he "really wants to come to New York". And came he did... in the middle of an unfathomably terrible season that would soon see Osorio lose his job. Oebster made his debut in the doomed CONCACAF Champions League campaign against W Connection, the semi-amateurs from Trinidad. He even scored in that match on a deflected shot... and then proceeded to do exactly nothing the rest of the year. Oebster's season total: 327 minutes.
He stayed with the club during the offseason, but the writing was on the wall. After a couple of preseason games, Oebster was sent packing, signing with Wacker Innsbruck in his native land. When Metro let him go, he said, "I have absolutely no problem with it, even happy. I am richer by a huge life experience. I would do exactly the same again. Not everyone gets the chance to play in New York." Oebster has since played for SV Grodig and is now with LASK Linz.
So, what have we learned about dealing with the "sister club"? Of course, we currently have a player, Ibrahim Sekagya, who, like Oebster, was signed after his stint with Salzburg was over. And the Ugandan looks to be here to stay... (and let's not bring up that blunder in the playoffs). As for loans? Well, there was that incredibly strange case of Brian Nielsen...
Yeah, let's not try for to work with the "sister club" ever again.