Long term readers at Dictate The Game may remember a trilogy featuring a fictional manager, Mason Bradshaw, with a difference from the usual FM story. He was a manager with no previous professional playing experience trying to climb up the ladder in the game.
His career took him from Ards to Braintree and finishing up at Sydney. Just days after winning his first major trophy at Sydney, the dream came crashing down upon him, as he woke up…
Just like the ‘who shot Bobby’ storyline in Dallas, it was all just a dream. Bradshaw in-fact worked in a supermarket and dreamt up the whole trilogy with his colleagues. This included his trusted assistant manager, Andrew Smith, who in reality worked as the store manager (and he was nowhere near 70!)
Mason was inspired by this dream and thought of the iconic quote by Walt Disney and decided to pursue a career in football.
All our dreams can come true if we have courage to pursue themWalt Disney
Bradshaw started off slow. He took non league jobs, working as a coach at West Essex FC at Step 5, before moving north of the border taking a coaching role at Stirling before finally getting the breakthrough in the states as the head coach of University of North Carolina soccer team. He is now getting his big chance as manager of the New York Red Bulls in Major League Soccer.
We’re following Mason Bradshaw as he attempts to make it big in the worlds game – in real life this time, not during his sleep. This is Route 23. We’ve got full access to the man himself, 24 hours a day. Whatever you want to know, hear or watch about Mason Bradshaw, Route 23 will your one stop shop.
Route 23, a FM23 story
Welcome back to the next update of Route 23, a FM23 story, following Mason Bradshaw across the pond as he takes charge of New York Red Bulls.
Today we will be taking a look at one more transfer for the Red Bulls along with their start of the season through the world of football…
AN EXCLUSIVE LOOK AT STIVEN PLAZA’S MOVE TO RBNY
By Rob Plumb
As I headed down to Harrison on the PATH train, I thought about some of the players that had donned the Metro jersey. From world beaters like Thierry Henry and Juan Pablo Angel, to club legends like Bradley Wright-Phillips and Luis Robles.
The Red Bulls were finalising their latest signing today, as Stiven Plaza made the move to the Garden State. The 23 year old Flavio Alfaro native had last played in Ecuador for Independiente. Bradshaw had pointed out the lack of attacking options when he was appointed the manager, so it was no surprise this was an area he was strengthen.
As the train rolled to a halt at the Harrison PATH station. I put away my laptop and began the short 10 minute walk to Red Bull Arena. I was surprised to see a number of players also on the train, including Dax McCarty, Aaron Long and Tom Barlow. Like true New Yorkers, they take the subway to work.
I arrived at Red Bull Arena just before 9:30am and training was due to start in an hour. I took a trek to the media room whilst I waited for the press conference to announce the new signing.
Just as I sat down, Andrew Smith, the assistant manager, walked in and asked me to follow him. He explained that Mason wanted me to follow Stiven through his first day at the club as an exclusive piece for the New York Times. He wanted a good link with us.
So, as he began his medical. His whole body strapped up to the machine, running up and down. They’re making sure there’s nothing wrong at all. After all, it is amazing what these medicals can bring up sometimes. Fortunately for both parties, it all came back clear.
Next it was time for a tour around the stadium. And who was doing the tour… none other than Connor Lade, former wearer of the number five jersey. He is now Senior Manager of Alumni Relations. He showed him around the state of the art soccer stadium. And as I followed, I feel so lucky to have this stadium on the door step of the City that Never Sleeps.
I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again. This stadium is the cathedral of American soccer, and is one of the best in North America.
Rounding out the day was the press conference where Bradshaw, Smith, Stiven and General Manager, Marc de Grandpre, answered questions from the press.
A notable local reporter asked Bradshaw if he felt that Stiven “can get enough goals this season to help the club finish in a respectable position?” Bradshaw replied, “its not fair to expect Stiven to do everything”
The PATH train zoomed out of the Garden State into the Empire State. I sat down and took a moment to reflect how big of a punt Mason is putting in the 23 year old as their only other signing. A kid with not a huge history of goal scorers.
It will either end brilliantly for Bradshaw, or in complete disaster, I am sure.
JULY – PRE SEASON
As the season rolled ever closer, a new era in the history of the world’s game in America was dawning. It was time for the Red Bulls to play friendlies.
To start the month off a inter-friendly was organised which Team ‘B’ came out victorious on a warm Tuesday evening at Red Bull Arena. Aaron Long got on the scoresheet for Team ‘A’.
Following this, they travelled down to St Louis to face St Louis City SC, and came away with a 3-1 victory thanks to goals from Aaron Long, Andres Reyes and Patryk Klimala. The team returned to the Garden State for the next friendly as they welcomed the New England Revs which finished in a 2-2 draw. Goals from the Red Bulls came from Stiven Plaza and Elias.
Next up was a trip to Portland where new signing Stiven Plaza shone as he scored two goals. It wasn’t enough to secure a win, as for the second game in the row, it was honours even at two goals a piece. It was time for a trip across the Canadian border to face Toronto FC. Bradshaw’s team romped them 4 goals to 1. Goals from Elias (2), Caden Clark and a superb solo goal from Dax McCarty.
The final game was a trip down to Texas to face FC Dallas as they paid their respect to Matt Hedges in his testimonial.
The inaugural MLS 2.0 began with a home tie for the Metro as Toronto FC ventured to Red Bull Arena. Red Bull Arena holds one of the best records in MLS so it was no surprise when the Red Bulls came out victorious 2-0 with a brace from Patryk Klimala. Up next was a US Open Cup first leg match as LA Force made the cross-country trip. And it must have been a long trip back to LA as the Red Bulls came out with a 3-1 win. Goals from John Tolkin, Elias (p), and Stiven Plaza.
Up next was a trip to Texas to face Dallas, however, it didn’t end well for the team as they fell to a 2-1 defeat. The solo goal coming from Patryk Klimala. The team stayed on the road and flew straight down to LA to play the second leg of the US Open Cup where they fell to a 3-4 defeat. It was enough to secure the win across two legs. The three goals were scored by Sean Nealis, Elias (p) and Caden Clark.
On the road for the third straight game at Seattle, the boys got thumped 4-1, with goal for the Red Bulls scored by the skipper, Dax McCarty. Fortunately, the next match was at home where they managed a 2-0 win over Sporting KC thanks to a Lewis Morgan penalty and a Luquinhas goal.
The club started September with a trip to the Disney city as they played Orlando City and the game ended a stalemate at 0-0. The trip to Disney World was much more exciting! They followed this up with a 2-1 win over Inter Miami a week later thanks to a very late winner by Casseres Jr. Following this, it was a local derby as New Jersey Copa hosted the Metro in the second round of the Cup. The Red Bulls hit them for 7-0. It’s not just you now, NYCFC. A hat-trick from Elias helped them on this rout, along with Stiven Plaza (2), Caden Clark and Cameron Harper.
Back to MLS and it was much tougher as they fell to a 3-0 loss on the road in Philly. They then returned back to Red Bull Arena where they hit the Copa for even more goals, nine. Goals came thick and first from Aaron Long, Elias (4), Stiven Plaza (3) and Caden Clark. They ended the month across-country down in LA and rode out a 2-0 road win thanks to goals from Frankie Amaya and Dru Yearwood.
October rolled around with a lot of home games which meant less travelling so hopefully more wins, but it turned out to be a fairly inconstient month with only 2 wins, but only one loss with most of them ending as draws.
The month started with a 0-0 home draw with Atlanta, followed up by a victory over Columbus. Goals from Plaza and Luquinhas. After this, a trip to Montreal beckoned which ended with a 1-0 defeat. A week later, Portland arrived at Red Bull Arena and took a point back with him in a highly entertaining 3 all draw. RBNY goals from: Klimala, Luquinhas and Lewis Morgan (p).
The next match was a home tie against Toronto in the third round of the US Open Cup, which finished in a 1-0 win, thanks to an early Caden Clark goal. Next up was the Hudson River Derby, but despite a frosty start between the fans and players, it failed to live up to expectations when it finished as a 0-0 draw.
WHERE WE STAND
After 14 games played, the Red Bulls sit 8th place, with 19 points, but are closer to the bottom three than 1st.
A FM23 STORY
Mason Bradshaw is back! Join us at Route 23 with our Access All Areas pass to watch the rookie Englishman take charge of the New York Red Bulls. We’ll see it all from the transfer signings, the team talks to the wins and losses. We’ll hear from Mason himself, his family, his colleagues, the media and much more.
Mason dreamed of a being a football manager (literally). It is now up to him to make the dream a reality. Can he be successful in the new top flight of the US soccer pyramid? Or will he end up falling through the leagues?
Find out on Route 23, a FM23 story, released every two-three weeks at DictateTheGame.com
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A footnote from the writer about Route 23, a FM story
The Bradshaw trilogy is back! I rested Mason for a few years but I knew as soon as FM22 came out, it was time to call up Mason and tell him to stop travelling and get some coaching experience. I did wrestle with my thoughts giving the Bradshaw saga a fourth installment. A trilogy can be perfect, look at Back to the Future. The fourth films in a franchise sometimes don’t quite hit the same, look at Jaws IV and Vegas Vacation. and simply, Alvin and the Chipmunks: Road Chip. We all watched it, it was okay, but didn’t hit the same as the other three…
Why bring it back then? The Manager Timeline is perfect for the Bradshaw saga, seeing the journey from the beginning to the end of the career, so I knew FM22 was the perfect time to get Mason back to the world’s game. I also found a 7 tier USA soccer pyramid which I felt was perfect for the save.
Mason is back. Welcome to Route 23, a FM23 Story