The first impression you get from new Red Bulls general manager Erik Soler is that he is an intelligent and polished soccer man. You also realize that for all his experience and his diverse resume, Soler knows very little about the American game. He admitted as much on Monday, stating, "I'm not going to claim to be an MLS expert."
It is that fact that makes it difficult to call his hiring a complete success just yet despite the distinct impression that he may be the sharpest man Red Bull has ever hired to run its New York club.
Soler isn't worried about the track record that strangers to MLS have had in succeeding in the league, and isn't about to let that history force him to hire a coach with MLS experience. At the moment, he is open to the idea of hiring a foreign coach or an American coach. He has been made aware of the past struggles of foreign coaches without MLS experience, but insisted that he was not afraid to try things that have not worked in the past.
And if the club does hire a foreign coach? Soler made it clear that he expects to build a front office team capable of supporting a head coach and GM who don't know MLS. What Soler wouldn't address was the role former technical director and current team scout Jeff Agoos will have going forward. As it stands, sources have told SBI that Agoos is still working as the point man on MLS team issues and stands a good chance of being the lead contributor to the team's draft preparations.
Soler wouldn't confirm our report of Tony Adams being a candidate, and would only confirm Richie Williams as a candidate for the head coaching position. He would not put a timetable on when the club will hire a coach.
one positive that did come out of today's press conference included Soler's insistence that the Red Bulls would have a better and more productive working relationship with its sister club in Salzburg. In the past, Red Bull Salzburg has been accused of not doing enough to support the New York club, but Soler has made it clear that his relationship with Salzburg leadership should lead to a much better working relationship.
Our first impression of Soler is that he is a sharp executive with a solid knowledge of the sport, which already makes him an improvement over the past men Red Bull has hired to run the club. His decision on a head coach, as well as on a support staff to work with him and the new coach, will go a long way toward telling us just what kind of general manager he will be.
We will offer more from today's press conference later this afternoon, so be sure to check in here. For now, feel free to share your thoughts on Soler's hiring below.