Less than a week after the departure of former Red Bulls managing director Marc deGrandpre comes word that two former MetroStars executives have emerged as leading candidates to replace him.
MLS senior vice president Nelson Rodriguez and former MetroStars Chief Operating Officer Tom Neale are among the top contenders to move into the managing director role vacated when deGrandpre left to take a position with a company outside MLS, sources have told SBI. Both candidates boast well-rounded resumes and strong ties to the club known formerly as the MetroStars.
The MetroStars director of soccer operations in 1998 and 1999, Rodriguez was recently promoted to senior vice president of Strategic Business Development by MLS after spending four years serving as VP of international business for Soccer United Marketing, the league’s marketing arm.
Neale has spent the past three years working in the private sector after spending three and a half years as Chief Operating Officer of the MetroStars before being let go in a cost-cutting measure by AEG. Prior to that, Neale spent five years with the San Jose Earthquakes, including a term as general manager during which time he hired head coach Frank Yallop, who went on to win two MLS Cup titles with the Earthquakes.
So why Neale and Rodriguez? Neale boasts a weath of experience after spending eight years in the league. He helped San Jose build a foundation for two championships and also served as COO during the most financially successful period in the history of the MetroStars/Red Bulls. Neale was also heavily involved with the club’s efforts to build a stadium in Harrison, which would give him an edge in handling the completion and opening of Red Bull Park.
Neale also has ties to the current Red Bulls leadership, having brought current technical director Jeff Agoos to San Jose as a player. Agoos served as captain on the Earthquakes 2001 and 2003 championship teams. Neale is also familiar with Osorio, having interviewed Osorio was a finalist to replace Octavio Zambrano as head coach following the 2002 season.
Rodriguez boasts a diverse soccer resume on all levels of the game. After serving as MetroStars director of soccer operations, Rodriguez took a position as MLS director of player personnel, which he held for four years before taking over as vice president of international business for SUM. He also boasts experience as a college head coach, having guided Lafayette to the NCAA Division I Sweet 16 in 1995, as well as an assistant coach for men’s and women’s teams at Rutgers.
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