Image Credit: New York Red Bulls
There has been a lot of news to come out of the Red Bulls organization in the past week and instead of addressing each issue separately I figured I would dedicate all my thoughts in one blog after thinking over everything that has gone on. Hope everyone enjoys this format!
The Force Was Not With Us
The Red Bulls experienced another humiliating loss on Saturday night, going down 1-0 to the Philadelphia Union on Star Wars night no less. The game went as many may have expected, and that is because it is how many games have gone for us this season. Stop me if you have heard this before: the Red Bulls opened the game strong in both their pressing and chance creation, however poor creativity and finishing squanders those opportunities before conceding the first goal. However, the biggest takeaway was, once again, poor MLS officiating. In the second minute of the game Damion Lowe appears to use his hand to block the ball in his own penalty box, much to the consternation of the Manoel and the other attacking Red Bulls. However, not only does the match official disagree, but VAR is never consulted. While that is a large enough of an offense on its own, later in the first half there is a controversial decision to give a penalty after it appears that Dylan Nealis grabbed Julian Carranza in the box. Now, obviously I have my biases but most onlookers would agree that this was a case of simulation rather than foul in the box. I say this because VAR called the referee to take a second look at the incident. Some would say that it is difficult to overturn as it is not a “clear and obvious” error, others would say some match officials don’t want to own up to their mistakes. I didn’t say anything. Regardless, the RBNY offense is torrid enough without the force feeling like it is working against us.
Red Bulls And Struber Part Ways
Ding Dong the Witch is Dead! The news that many Red Bulls fans have been waiting for, head coach Gerhard Struber was relieved of his duties by mutual consent Monday afternoon after the weekend's disappointing loss. Many Red Bulls fans would say that it came about four weeks two late, after his terrible handling of the well documented incident that resulted in the 6 week suspension of DP Dante Vanzier. At that time, I wanted to give Struber the benefit of the doubt, but his rather shameless denial of fault in the weeks after that incident turned me and many of the other less jaded Red Bull fans against Struber. Ever the wordsmith, in his parting message to Red Bulls fans Struber stated 'It was also clear for me that I wanted to return to Europe at the end of this season, at the latest It was extremely difficult for me to live here, completely without my family.’ It’s not you, it's me, classic. It certainly had nothing to do with the club bottom of MLS Eastern Conference with one win and nine points after 11 matches. You know how the saying goes, you can have a PR nightmare, you can play brain damaging lifeless soccer, but you can’t do both. Auf Wiedersehen, Struber!
The Troy Lesesne Era Begins
Following the departure of Gerhard Struber, assistant coach Troy Lesesne was named interim manager for the remainder of the season. The 39 old Charleston native joined the club in January 2022 after previously managing New Mexico United in the USL. In 2020 he was named USL Co-Coach of the year and posted a 34-29-25 record across 89 matches in his time with New Mexico and averaged approximately 1.51 points per match. For those interested, The Athletic posted a fascinating article regarding his quarterfinals run in the Open Cup in 2019 with New Mexico United. Lesesne managed his first win in charge of the Red Bulls in Open Cup Ro32 match against DC United. While it is hard to take much away from a cup game, even if it is against a heated rival, the Red Bulls looked like they were playing with relief and a breath of fresh air. Hopefully that momentum continues as rivalry week continues at home this weekend against NYCFC. I for one go into the rest of the season with cautious optimism and wish Lesesne the best of luck. It may seem too late to make significant progress this season but best case scenario we have a promising young coach at the helm of our club only time can tell.