New York Red Bulls head of sport Jochen Schneider believes the Eastern Conference side are ready to shift into another gear ahead of the 2024 MLS season.
The 2023 season wasn’t too kind for Red Bulls up until the latter stages of the campaign. New York struggled early on and ended up parting ways with head coach Gerhard Struber in May, promoting assistant Troy Lesesne to an interim role for the remainder of the season.
Lesesne worked miracles on the Red Bulls squad, pulling everyone together in one direction and clinched an eighth place finish in the Eastern Conference to play host to Charlotte FC in the Wild Card round of MLS Cup playoffs.
Lesesne’s side got the job done in a chaotic 5-3 triumph, but were outmatched against the Supporters’ Shield winners FC Cincinnati as they were swept in the first round. Red Bulls made history by qualifying for the postseason for the 14th straight time, a record for a North American professional sports team.
But simply making the postseason and getting dumped out in the first round isn’t enough for a club like Red Bulls, resulting in the club opting to not extend Lesesne’s contract and parting ways with sporting director Denis Hamlett, with assistant coach Zach Prince following him out the door.
“We are proud of the run that we made,” said Schneider at a year-end press conference. “We have made it – 14 times in a row – to the playoffs. But, please let me say this clearly: This is not good enough. We need to take the next step. That’s why we made these key decisions. That’s why we agreed, with Red Bull soccer, to invest in our team. We want to reach the next level with our club.”
Schneider explained that it starts first and foremost on the field for Red Bulls:
“We all agree that we have to improve the product on the pitch. We need to get better. We need to raise our standards. We need to ask for more. That’s what I expect from our players.”
Red Bulls are hoping to avoid another near-disaster campaign with a fresh reset in the front office and on the touchline.
“We are resetting on the sporting side and we felt it was the right decision,” said Schneider. “We are now starting the process to hire a new Head Coach and a new Sporting Director – and hopefully, we’ll bring both jobs over the line by Christmas.
“We have Red Bull on the shirt, and it should always look like Red Bull. It should never be boring, it should never be sitting back and waiting. We always want to be on the front foot, being aggressive on the pitch.”
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