The “Armas Out” chants are out of the digital space and now echo in the tight concourses of Red Bull Arena. Recent results are far from encouraging, and a disappointing ending seems inevitable.
Coaches are easy targets when things go wrong, so it would only be fair to assume that Chris Armas could be axed once the season is over. However, I don’t recommend getting too wrapped up in that thought because Red Bull New York is a contrarian organization. Armas 2020 is a possibility.
The consolation I have for those hungry for a coaching change is that the overlords in Austria have been quiet throughout the season and that’s a little suspicious. It’s the sound of something cooking, maybe a big change.
I’m also a firm believer in life cycles, and it seems that the one initiated by Ali Curtis and Jesse Marsch in 2015 is coming to an end. Imagining the future when the present is so uncertain is a fun thing to do, so I made a short list of managers that could land in the RBNY Head Coach position and begin a new era.
The former Red Bull Salzburg (2012-2014) head coach was sacked by Beijing Guoan of the Chinese Super League on July 31st. The team was in third place but elimination from the AFC Champions League, topped off by a couple of consecutive league losses, was enough of a reason to force a change. Fans didn’t like the move at all and gave Schmidt an emotional goodbye at the airport.
Before Beijing Guoan, Schmidt coached Bayern Leverkusen between June 2014 and March 2017. His record was 62 wins, 29 draws, and 37 losses. At Red Bull Salzburg, Schmidt won a league and an Austrian Cup title with Ralf Rangnick as his boss.
The German could now be waiting for something to open up in the German Bundesliga, but there is a chance the 52 year-old is into “emerging leagues” and MLS is something he could be interested in. I also want to believe that if Armas is out, RBNY would follow the steps of other MLS teams and hire a seasoned coach like Schmidt.
Óscar García Junyent
The Catalan is another former Red Bull Salzburg (2015-2017) coach that is unemployed at the moment. García is only 46 years old but his resume boasts one league title in Israel and two in Austria with Salzburg. (He also won 2 Austrian Cups.)
Before finding success with Salzburg, García also spent some time in the English championship with Brighton & Hove Albion (21-16-16 record). He was appointed by Watford in September 2014 but resigned later that month due to health issues. After Salzburg, García coached Saint-Étienne in France and Olympiacos in Greece. Both were bad experiences as the clubs were unstable and offered few guarantees for his success. The manager didn’t stay more than six months at either of them. He took a sabbatical in early 2018 and has only worked as a broadcaster since.
Now let’s take a look at the in-house personnel.
Carnell was hired as Assistant Coach by Jesse Marsch in March 2017 to replace Denis Hamlett, who was appointed Sporting Director. Carnell played for Ralf Rangnick in Stuttgart and seems to be someone the Austrian owners would trust, especially with Rangnick’s new post as Head of Sport and Development with a focus on RBNY and Bragantino. He has never been a head coach but already has three seasons as an assistant in MLS. That could be the issue with him: who wants another assistant promoted to the RBNY Head Coach position?
If you’re reading this, you’re a Metro fan, and you already know everything about Woly, including his success as Head Coach of New York Red Bulls II. Wolyniec has a proven record of being a good developer of players for the first team (and the whole USL), and for some fans, it seems fair and natural to promote him to the first team. Well, that is a very Metro thought to have, but Woly should stay in NYRB2.
I’m stretching this exercise a little bit to bring a Liga MX name to the table because nobody is going to escape the Leagues Cup era. The Portuguese manager was sacked by Cruz Azul a few weeks ago, the victim of a power struggle between top executives. He left with a record of 33 wins, 20 draws, and 18 losses; a Copa MX title; and Supercopa MX crown.
Before La Máquina Cementera, Caixinha coached Glasgow Rangers for only 229 days, the shortest in club history, but whatever, who cares about the Rangers. What interests me here is his success in Liga MX. Besides Cruz Azul, he coached Club Santos (2012-2015), winning a league and a Copa MX.
Caixinha has expressed admiration for MLS before, and people in Mexico consider him a studious manager. His teams aren’t known for playing an aggressive high press, but he is pragmatic like a good Portuguese coach and understands that modern soccer is about finding success in the transition moments.
Further south in Argentina, a former Manchester United defender is earning some praise for his work with Argentinos Juniors and Velez Sarsfield; the latter is his current team. I put Heinze on this short list because of the wave of Argentine coaches that have come to MLS over the past three seasons. He is also a Marcelo Bielsa disciple, which means an attacking soccer style and innovation. Heinze also enjoys developing young talent which is something RBNY values. I can see him seeing MLS as a bridge to Europe. Also, if his nickname is “El Gringo” he might give MLS a shot.
Marcelino was unfairly sacked by Valencia last week, and he shouldn’t stay in Spain waiting for another gig. He is a versatile coach with an all-time winning record. His most recent feat was a 2-1 victory against Barcelona in the 2019 Copa del Rey. His teams are known for solid defense, wide attacks, and the beloved high press the red side of New York adores. The 54 year-old has never coached outside of Spain.
I don’t have any more candidates. If you were expecting Thierry Henry on this list, the joke is on you.