Red Bull New York have appointed Erik Solér as their new general manager and sporting director in a bid to bring a European slant to their game and revive their MLS fortunes.
The Red Bulls missed out on the MLS playoffs for the first time in seven years this season, finishing bottom of the league. The powers that be knew this was unacceptable, and in Solér, they feel they’ve brought in a man with the requisite breadth of knowledge and experience to turn the team’s fortunes around.
"Erik Soler is highly respected in the international soccer world," said Red Bull’s global soccer chief Dietmar Beiersdorfer. "We are excited to appoint him as general manager and sporting director.”
The Norwegian has been a player and a coach, and has experience at boardroom level, meaning he is well-connected. He even has a degree in psychology – surely a plus in a sport that is more about mental stability and mindgames than ever – though he admits that, with not so much experience in the realm of US soccer, he’ll need to hit the ground running.
"Of course I'm not going to claim I'm an MLS expert,” said the 49-year-old from Lillestrøm. “I'm an expert in European soccer, but I think I have a sensible ability to learn things quite quickly. The most important thing, of course, is to understand more in the coming weeks and months, and also build a good team around me that has all the knowledge."
'To fill stadiums, you have to play the type of soccer people like… with some good players they like to watch.' – Erik Solér
Part of that team might include former Arsenal legend Tony Adams, who briefly managed English Premier League side Portsmouth recently, but Solér has remained coy about any appointments to his outfit, claiming that he remains "open-minded" about where his staff will come from, be that from within or outside of the States.
However, the future of caretaker coach Richie Williams will be high on his list of priorities, either as the confirmed first-team boss to take the Red Bulls forward, or otherwise.
“I saw what he did here last year,” Solér commented. “Hopefully, we'll include him in one of the positions, but what position is not finalized."
With the brand new Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey, set to debut next season, Solér knows his task is to help create the kind of team who play attractive, attacking and, ultimately, winning soccer.
"Soccer is about filling the stadiums,” Solér said, “and to fill the stadiums, you have to play the type of soccer people like – you have to attract people with some good players they like to watch. [There] must be a great possibility to build a soccer base here. It's a great area [with] a lot of people – a lot of soccer interest."
Read more about Red Bull New York at the official website.