The New York Red Bulls will move one step closer to trying to organize the mess that is the club's front office when it formally introduces Erik Soler today as the team's new general manager. Soler will step in and be in charge of all soccer-related operations for a club still picking up the pieces following a nightmare 2009 season.
What will this mean for the club's immediate future? That depends on who the club will hire to be its new head coach. You probably thought I was kidding when I mentioned former Arsenal star and failed Portsmouth manager Tony Adams was in the running for the Red Bulls job, but now the link has reached the UK, leaving us to wonder if Soler is really ready to hire a coach who knows as little about MLS as he does.
Red Bulls fans shouldn't jump into panic mode just yet. The club is considering coaches with MLS experience, with at least one MLS veteran earning an interview last week. A hire will need to be made in the next week or so if a new coach and coaching staff is going to be in position to prepare for the 2010 MLS Draft, which the Red Bulls have two first-round picks in. The longer the club delays in hiring a head coach, the more likely Jeff Agoos (the man who Soler has essentially replaced and the man who apparently cannot be fired by the Red Bulls) will play a key role in the club's draft strategy.
Those wondering what that may mean to New York should consider what teams sources called Agoos' most significant contribution to last year's draft. When the Red Bulls were poised to select with the No. 18 overall pick, then-head coach Juan Carlos Osorio had his sights set on fullback Evan Brown, a player expected to be available at 18. Seattle ruined those plans by grabbing Brown at No. 16, which left the Red Bulls scrambling. Agoos wound up recommending that the club take Babajide Ogunbiyi, an imposing defender who had impressed at the Combine. The only problem with that selection was that Ogunbiyi had European club aspirations and had no intention of signing in MLS for anything short of a senior contract. This information was common knowledge among other MLS front offices, which is how Ogunbiyi slipped to No. 18 in the first place. Nobody told Agoos though, and he wound up wasting a draft pick on a player the team never signed.
TRACY EMERGING IN DENMARK
If you are wondering which forwards might emerge to challenge for spots in U.S. national team head coach Bob Bradley's pecking order, one name you might want to start considering is Marcus Tracy.
Just a year ago, Tracy was playing for Wake Forest and was regarded as the top prospect in a loaded MLS Draft class. That was before he bolted for Denmark, where he signed for Aalborg BK. After getting limited playing time last season, Tracy has emerged in recent weeks as a regular starter for the Danish club. The 23-year-old striker has started four straight matches and wasted no time making an impact, scoring the winning goal in Aalborg's 1-0 win vs. FC Copenhagen, his first of those four straight starts.
Aalborg played its final match before the winter break last Saturday, a 2-0 loss to Sonderjyske, and won't return to action until the Danish League returns to action in early March. In the meantime, Tracy just might have done enough to be considered one of the leading candidates for a call-up to the U.S. team's January training camp in Carson, California.