Kaku is back.
The New York Red Bulls‘ influential midfielder returning from a three-game suspension this week with something to prove. What he takes to the field is a certain sense of freedom and purpose in light of what has been a trying time for the player.
Born Alejandro Romero Gamarra, the player known simply as Kaku was one of the top midfielders in MLS a year ago in his first season in the league. But his sophomore campaign has been anything but smooth. It started with a bit of an ugly transfer tussle with Mexican side Club America followed by a sluggish start to the season and then an incident at Sporting Kansas City several weeks ago where he accidentally kicked the ball at a fan.
Back from the three-game suspension handed down by MLS for that incident, Kaku figures to be a part of the squad for matches against the Montreal Impact on Wednesday night and at FC Dallas over the weekend. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see him in the starting lineup for one of these two games.
“Really happy, being out here again with my guys, and just practicing with them is really fun to be around them again,” Kaku said on Tuesday.
“Just trying to help them win now. I’m glad they’re able to string off a couple of wins but now I’m here to help them as well.”
His ability on the ball will be key for the Red Bulls. In that Kansas City match, he had a beautiful assist in the 2-2 road result, showing that he was starting to round into form.
The slow start to the season, compounded by some of the drama surrounding the player, hasn’t seemed to affect Kaku in recent weeks. In fact, head coach Chris Armas said that during the suspension, he has seen a difference in the player.
He called it “a freeness [and] freedom” and he thinks it will carry onto the pitch this week when he presumably returns to the gameday roster.
“I know it will, I know it will. He just keeps growing and his commitment to the team has never been greater. I know it’s going to carry over,” Armas said. “Even the last game that he played, I thought he was excellent in Kansas City, setting up goals and playing with a certain clarity that we need.”
As for his teammates, there seems to be no ill will from what has been a rollercoaster of a year for Kaku. Following training, Kaku laughed and interacted with his fellow Red Bulls with no signs of a hangover from his suspension. The past few weeks were an opportunity for growth, he says, as he talked about the difficulty of the suspensions and his message to the fans.
“I just learned, I made a mistake, I let my emotions get the best of me during that moment which I need to learn from and I have. I’ve reflected on it. I felt bad for what happened but now I have to move forward,” Kaku said.
“I just want to apologize again to all the fans, I’ve learned from my mistakes. I made a statement immediately right after. I’m really sorry about what happened. I’m learning – I’m still young – I’ll learn from this. Now it is all about helping the team win games.”
[Watch the Red Bulls Take on the Montreal Impact Wednesday at 7:30 PM on MSG+ & MSG GO. Get the App Now.]