Gerhard Struber will get an opportunity to coach the Red Bulls from the start of the 2021 MLS season. (FrontRowSoccer.com Photo)
No Major League Soccer team has gone through more coaches than the Red Bulls.
No. 18 came on Oct. 7, when the team hired Gerhard Struber. He succeeded interim coach Bradley Carnell, who had replaced the fired Chris Armas Sept. 4.
According to reports, the Red Bulls paid Barnsley FC, at which he most recently coached, $2.6 million so he could get out of his contract with the English Championship club.
That Struber had a past with the Red Bulls organization – he spent than a decade either player for or coaching at the youth level with Red Bull Salzburg – did not hurt his chances. The organization knew about his philosophy and vice versa.
But it was what the USA team wanted and needed; not what Salzburg desired.
“He’s well known to the group and the rest of the organization,” head of sport Kevin Thelwell said. “That helps in terms of the process because we’re obviously able to get some very good references. But without question it’s all about New York at this stage. We’re going want somebody who’s going to be committed to New York, and without question I got that sense in the conversations that I was having with it with Gerhard all the time. My view is that he’s extremely committed to us.”
Due to the long time to obtain a work visa Struber was not able to run the team until the team’s 3-2 first-round loss at Columbus Crew SC in the MLS Cup Playoffs Nov. 21.
“A difficult season ending now, for my team,” he said. “I think maybe the game showed everyone a little bit of the rollercoaster of the season. In this game, I can see a team that this season never gave up. They always believed for development, always believed they can bring good results. Especially in the last few weeks showed me, showed everyone in the club, also the fans, that we are on a good way. Right now, in this game, we are also a little unlucky, especially in the first half. “
On Sept. 4, Thelwell announced that Armas had been sacked as coach.
“We needed to make the change,” he said.
Later Thelwell added: “New York Red Bull is a team that that … needs to be contested and competing at the top of the league. I don’t think either the performance or the results followed. So, in terms of what we want to achieve in terms of the ambitions of the football club going forwards, I had to make a decision about whether we felt Chris and CJ [Brown, assistant coach] in particular, could help us to do that. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel that was the case. Therefore, it was better to make the change now than to than to wait further down the line.”
Entering that weekend’s action, the Red Bulls (3-4-2, 11 points) were in seventh place, barely above the playoff line in the Eastern Conference. But that wasn’t good enough for Thelwell, who joined the team from Wolverhampton Wanderers (England) in February.
The Red Bulls had struggled to find the net. They had only seven goals in nine matches and none of their forwards had tallied a goal this season, an astounding stat.
Under Carnell, the team recorded a 6-5-3 mark and finished sixth to qualify for the postseason. Carnell was retained as an assistant coach under Struber for 2021.
Tomorrow: Story No. 1 of 2020