Red Bulls murky future begins amid big changes [Editorial]

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There’s an age-old saying, “A rolling stone gathers no moss”. Nowhere is that saying put to the test more then in sports. Change maintains from one season to the next. When things don’t go very well, or as expected, changes both in management and player personnel happen, whether fans like it or not.

It’s the nature of the business. Nothing personal.

Want the team you follow to win a championship? They must adapt. 

And now that those inevitable changes have begun, there are three critical questions every New York Red Bulls supporter should be asking the Front Office: 

  • What now?
  • Who’s next?
  • Who’s coming to replace the dearly departed?

What now?

Let’s commence with this one. The bad news, the club has declined options on six players after picking up eleven.

Let’s talk about those who will not return in 2020:
Bradley Wright-Phillips, Luis Robles, Vincent Bezecourt, Marcus Epps, Derrick Etienne Jr., Jean-Christophe Koffi, and goalkeeper Evan Louro, who was with New York Red Bulls II.

When word got out that two favorites, and club legends, would not return next season, the news was jarring. Luis Robles was the club captain. He us now the third straight captain that has been shown the door. If you are a supporter that loved supporting these players, this was not a good day for you.

However, there’s a silver lining in this dark cloud. The move freed up 1.4 million dollars of cap space (salary cap is 4.2 million). The Red Bulls must use it bringing in some major talent.

In a soccer league where salary caps are a way of life in MLS, such changes were necessary. And at the end of the season, it’s how you spend it as opposed to who and much you spend it on that makes all the difference.

Who’s next?

When roster moves like these are made, it is not the end, just the beginning of an active transfer window. But given the situation, don’t expect many further losses at this point. That should be it for now. So, that leaves…

Who’s coming to replace the dearly departed?

I feel that this is the most critical question that needs to be asked. Supporters have been down this road before. Last season, the same group won the club’s third Supporter Shield in six seasons, losing to the eventual MLS Cup champion Atlanta United in the Eastern Conference Final. With the 2019 season finishing in underwhelming fashion, by comparison, the last thing the supporters want to go through is a rebuilding year while other squads cement their elite status – Championship trophy in hand.

With the 2020 season starting in 19 weeks, the supporters want to know just WHAT type of team they’ll be watching. They are suspicious of a Sporting Director that didn’t make the necessary moves to improve the team last season, when just about every other team did.

They are beyond tired of seeing other squads load their rosters with proven difference makers and “box-office” superstars, even if they are over the hill, only to see their team respond with signings from New York Red Bull II, young talented players that don’t make the cut, or even worse, don’t even see the field.

Now you can’t try to soothe those fans, who even now have decided to step away, with buzzwords. Words like reaching “level that they are accustomed to” when those weary supporters and Red Members expect this organization to meet and exceed that level and beyond, fall on deaf ears. 

They want a coach that will not just employ the press with full effect, but use it as a weapon that will propel them to the next level. A level expected for a team playing in one of the largest markets of the nation

Short and sweet, they want results. Not prepared excuses in the form of a press release.

I’m not going to pretend to know the answer to that final question, because only Denis Hamlett can do that. This is his moment to make a bold statement and give the fanbase confidence that the upcoming season will not be a repeat of 2019, or worse.

The supporters of the New York Red Bulls are waiting with bated breath for that moment. They’ve been waiting for that moment for nearly two and a half decades and counting.

Let’s hope they are not disappointed yet again.

Photo by Steve Hamlin

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