Red Bulls assistants Williams, McAleenan fired (UPDATED)

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New York Red Bulls assistant coaches Richie Williams and Des McAleenan, who have served a combined 15 seasons as coaches for New York, have been fired.

The Washington Post reported on Monday afternoon that the two assistants were let go for what sources were calling "repeated violations of club rules"

(UPDATED) The Red Bulls confirmed on Monday evening that they have released Williams and McAleenan from their coaching duties. Calls to Williams and McAleenan were not returned.

Williams joined the Red Bulls coaching staff as an assistant for head coach Mo Johnston in 2006 and has sinced worked under Red Bulls head coaches Bruce Arena, Juan Carlos Osorio and Hans Backe. He has served as the team's interim head coach on two occasions, compiling a 4-6-4 record during those stints. Considered one of the most highly-regarded assistants in MLS, Williams has been a candidate for multiple head coaching openings in MLS, but had been seen as a potential successor to Backe before these recent developments.

McAleenan has been the Red Bulls' goalkeeper coach since 2002, coaching under five different head coaches and had developed a reputation as one of the best goalkeeper coaches in MLS.

Removing two key members of the coaching staff just three weeks before the start of the season would be a shocking development, particularly considering the remainder of the current full-time coaching staff consists of newly-hired assistant Jan Halvor Halvorsen. Recently retired Red Bulls defender Mike Petke has been working as an individual developmental coach, among a variety of roles he's taken on with the club, and he could be moved into a more full-time role as an assistant.

We'll pass along more information as it becomes available.

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85 Responses to Red Bulls assistants Williams, McAleenan fired (UPDATED)

  1. JayDelight says:

    To be fair, Mike Petke has been involved in the coaching this offseason.

  2. jon says:

    Awful…. Richie has been a loyal and well qualified employee of the club. I hate to see it end this way.
    Some club will get a well prepared coach.

  3. BDWG81 says:

    Makes me wonder what team rules they violated…

  4. soccerroo says:

    shocking! Man I hope Richie takes over at another team and beats the redbulls eveerytime out. This would be the ultimate of disrespect for a guy that has help out in all the bad times.

  5. Duck says:

    Rule 43D: More than half of the coaching staff must be Scandanavian.

  6. seth says:

    I hope they really did something wrong because I saw these guys as two key figures on keeping the red bulls grounded locally.

  7. jspech says:

    I guess Backe & Soler didn’t need him anymore to show them the MLS ropes. Ricidulous! We’ll never find out why.

  8. JoeW says:

    This reeks of a massive dump of Bulls**t. The reason given to Steve Goff was “repeated tardiness to meetings.” Here’s what you do when you want to fire someone you don’t like or you’re looking for an excuse to fire someone and it’s not about competence: you look for rules violations.

    If either of these guys had major philosophical differences with Backe, you could easily justify firing them saying “goo guy, yada, yada, philosophical differences, yada, yada, decided to go in a different direction, yada, yada.” But in this case, I’m betting that Backe, after a year’s success and feeling like he “knows” MLS has decided that he wants his own guys to work with. That’s unfortunately. McAleenan’s record speaks for itself. And Richie Williams–he’s carried so much water for this club and stayed with the organization when it was disfunctional, wasn’t always treated well yet performed when called upon. BS

  9. Colin says:

    They were caught drinking Rockstars behind RBA. HUGE rule violation.

  10. andrew says:

    gettin a lil scared now for the season, backe jus said agudelo n rodgers are gonna miss the opener and now this yikes could you imagine if we have osorio situation all over again? if tha happens this year im done moving on to the cosmos hopefully

  11. Bobby says:

    well get a good juicy email soon enough…probably tried to call out henry for his lack of production….

  12. Eugene says:

    Wow, this is shocking and would be severely upsetting if true. Exactly the kind of problem the Red Bulls did not need at the beginning of this season. Both of these coaches have excellent reputations as professionals, I find it hard to believe they would do anything to deserve being fired.

  13. Lee says:

    Why do you a-holes always look to blame the RedBulls . Why dont u a-holes just wait and see what really happen before you guys start talking BS.. We dont know what happened just because you like Richie does not mean he didnt do something wrong …..

  14. andrew says:

    us fans, two ways to look at it either start to get scared for the season or soler is completely getting rid of anything tha has to do with osorio

  15. ga-gone says:

    Pretty much my thoughts. Let’s wait and see guys.

  16. dan says:

    first Back publically belittles the playoff structure – not sure if that is a smart move to say publicly… and now firing one of the most respected assistants in the league?!?! not sure what to think of this….

  17. ga-gone says:

    i chuckled at this.

  18. anon says:

    I heard Williams was addicted to FourLoko. Yeah, you can be a sensitive organization but at a certain point you’ve got to sort out your habits on your own…

  19. The Dude says:

    WTF? They have some explaining to do.

  20. Adrian - Fire Fan says:

    Haha great point.

    People are freaking out and just tearing into the Red Bulls for… nobody has any idea.

    If they were fired for violating team rules, and that was the reason give, chances are it was something serious.

  21. Shane says:

    Backe is an arrogant SOB. He will crash and burn.

  22. wilyboy says:

    The Red Bull’s loss is DC’s gain… come home Richie, we’ve got a front office job (or two) with your name on it.

  23. dan says:

    anyone have any links giving any info on this (besides the Washington Post)?

  24. Adrian - Fire Fan says:

    Some of these comments are ridiculous, and the hate is flowing strong.

  25. dan says:

    why not let them go at the end of last season?? I understand there are differences and I don’t think these differences developed over night…. however, not sure why wait until now to let them go. sad….

  26. Mark says:

    Be interesting to hear both sides of this story. Potential makings of a soap opera depending on how this went down…

  27. GSScasual says:

    you are one of those* fans….. huh?

    (*= poser/not real)

  28. getanewnumber10 says:

    In this situation is Backe the back stabber or the backe stabbee?

  29. JoeW says:

    What we know is that two guys with excellent reputations within the league and a fine track record of performance were suddenly released for “repeated rules violations” and “tardiness” (that is what Steve Goff was told). Not “philosophical differences” (which is reasonable) or “gross moral issues” (which is easily understandable). No fines, no suspension but outright release for what sounds like a bunch of rinky-dink reasons.

  30. JoeW says:

    TWO of the most respected assistants in the league. McAlleenan is an excellent GK coach, one of the best in MLS. Twice Richie Williams has taken a dysfunctional NY team in the midst of players quitting on the season and made them a competitive team.

  31. JoeW says:

    My read on this is that Backe has someone he wants to hire, that guy wasn’t available until now, and so the team announces some pretext (tardiness and rules violations). I could be dead wrong on this. But that would explain why they weren’t let go last season and it only happens now.

  32. jloome says:

    Anyone drawing a conclusion on what’s out there so far is an idiot.

  33. Happy Camper says:

    Everybody CALM THE F DOWN until the facts are known. Chill, everybody, chill!


  34. patrick says:

    itll be announced in the coming days that richie williams is taking a job elsewhere and bringing McAleenan with him. That, or RB found out they were TRYING to leave and thats why they were released.

  35. leftcoastmetro says:

    Does this really need spelling out?

    Making a conclusion without any supporting information as to what happened makes the conclusions (and, jloome seems to be arguing, by extension the concluder) idiotic. Seems logical.

  36. Luke says:

    This article from last March looks strange now: link to

  37. John.q says:

    I heard it’s because Backe and Williams had a difference of opinion on which twilight character is the best, Edward or Jacob.

  38. Joamiq says:

    Wow, seriously? GTFO and go root for the Cosmos. The Red Bulls don’t need fans like you.

  39. adikus says:

    must’ve broken rule number 76… “play like a champion”

  40. devin says:

    they must have been caught drinking Monsters

  41. Grayson says:

    They were obviously breaking the “Don’t ask; don’t tell” rule. I don’t understand why everyone else didn’t immediately see this…lol.

  42. Jack says:

    Here’s a novel idea: how about waiting for more information instead of ripping into the Red Bulls or jumping to conclusions about wrongful termination?

    I don’t think that a club would take firing such a huge part of their coaching staff three weeks before the beginning of the season lightly, and they would have to have a reason to do it to avoid backlash. Unless there are some serious, serious idiots over at RBNY, there has to be a lot more to this story (heck, this isn’t even a story yet–all we know is that they were fired).

  43. Pico says:

    Have to agree with you there sir.

    It does not make logical sense for this to happen so close to the season, and we might never find out the real reason why.

    Richie and Des could have actually done something really bad to force the RB front office hand, and instead of the RB burying the two coaches and their careers, they just gave some generic line. Everybody saves face.


  44. ga-gone says:

    later punk, enjoy your imaginary team you d.nozzle.

  45. KevDC says:

    Firing longtime, dedicated and competent assistants weeks before the season pretty much guarantees they won’t be able to get MLS jobs this season. Pretty harsh. The real reasons for this better be serious or this is an incredibly lame move.

    I didn’t really need another reason to hate the NJ Energy Drinks, but I’ll take it.

  46. JoeW says:

    Except both of these guys pre-date JCO.

  47. Be Serious says:

    Root for a team that doesn’t even exist? That’s a sound plan …

  48. Be Serious says:

    Oh, I see what you did there. Thinking you are clever and all …

    * YAWN *

  49. inkedAG says:

    WOW!! I am shocked!!

  50. RealsoccerFC says:

    I can wait and find out the real story but it doesnt change the fact that Backe is an arrogant SOB and I will thoroughly enjoy his downfall.

  51. dan says:

    From the RB web site “As an organization, we decided to go a different direction with our coaching staff,” said Red Bull New York General Manager and Sporting Director Erik Soler. “We want to thank Richie and Des for their contributions to our franchise and wish them good luck in their future endeavors.”

  52. Jolivernyc says:

    After 16 years of supporting this club, last year I finally felt like we were in the hands of folks who knew what they were doing. Thanks to Erik Stover, we’d moved out of Giants Stadium and into the best facility in American soccer. Soler added depth and quality to the worst squad in MLS history, highlighted by the pick-up of Joel Lindpere. Hans Backe had given the squad a bit of confidence and swagger and had them playing attractive, inspired soccer. A worst to first transition was more than we could have hoped for in their first year.

    Red Bull fans have never gone into a season with the level of expectation that we have now. Sure, Angel was jettisoned. Two DPs playing up front couldn’t work, especially considering Angel never had the pace that Hans desires up top. Still, losing the club’s best ever player stung.

    Now this. We lose two coaches who had served the clubs through good times and bad. Des had morphed an athletic enigma named Bouna Condoul into one of the top goalkeepers in MLS, someone capable of stealing three points as he did against Kansas City late in the year.

    Richie is a local guy, who did an admirable job as the club’s interim coach and had every right to feel hard done by when he wasn’t offered the gig full time. He didn’t sulk. He joined Hans’ staff. He was the architect of perhaps the greatest draft class in MLS history, providing the club with two starters this year. With the 18th pick he landed a centerback who should be starting for the US at the Gold Cup this summer.

    The fact that these moves were made less than three weeks before the start of the season is a bizarre. There has to be more to this story. I can’t imagine Hans would leave himself with only one assistant coach less than 20 days before the season kicks off. I’m sure details will emerge in the coming days that will allow Red Bull fans to make more sense of this move. However, this story gave me a very skeptical feeling for the first time this winter.

  53. KevDC says:

    So they are going to “go a different direction with our coaching staff” three weeks before the season starts?



  54. chris says:

    Don’t worry richie will be back with another team to butt f*ck the red bulls

    He was probally smoking a little weed in mexico

  55. james says:

    One Word: WilliLeaks

  56. Bull on Parade says:

    Hate to see them go but they must have done something. And all this talk of Backe being arrogant is ridiculous. All good coaches are. He isn’t the head coach to make friends. He’s there to do a job. Anyone ever want The Special One to leave their team because he’s arrogant? I think not.

  57. GSScasual says:

    jealousy is a powerful thing, kev… its ok..

  58. Keith G. says:

    Wow this came as a shock to me. Two of the best coaches in the league are now gone. Who ever gets these guys will get great coaches. I am now just hoping that the club has two big names in mind to fill the spots. How about bringing in Oliver Kahn to be the GK coach, now that would really get our guys over, lol.

  59. Dave says:

    First off I like both these guys, but if you have been late for your job on several occassions you will probably get fired. They have probably been disciplined behind the scenes previously (if all this is true).

    Second we are talking about assistant coaches, I have been a Metro/RB fan since day one, and I have never gone to a game to watch the assistants. Everyone will move on in a week and we’ll all watch RB win the cup this year.

  60. solles says:

    well that pretty much eliminates the need to post at all. k all, night, go home, it’s all shut down, leftcoastmetro (is there such a thing?) has closed all possible discussion.

  61. solles says:

    go back to DC Richie… go back to DC! Maybe that would be wierd to assist Ben Olsen, but maybe some job within the organization.

  62. tylawfan1 says:

    So Richie Williams isn’t good enough for NYRB but Luke Rodgers is? Backe won’t be able to keep the team top of the East for much longer and in a short amount of time he is going to have worn out his welcome. This is the single most bone-headed move I’ve ever seen in MLS. What a good example to set for the club, that long service, sacrifice and loyalty will go unrewarded… Whatever was the reason for the firing better be damnnnn good…

  63. 4now says:

    Patience. The Soler/Backe regime has been very deliberate in their actions. And pretty up front in general. With this happening so suddenly, I would imagine that something suddenly happened. It very well be S/B who were put in an uncomfortable position, and they are the ones being discrete. Regardless, very unfortunate this time of year for all involved.

  64. 4now says:


  65. Seriously says:

    This reeks. Something isn’t right here, I need more facts. Right now it just doesn’t really add up and the “repeated violations” seem fishy.

  66. Badger says:

    “pretty much guarantees they won’t be able to get MLS jobs this season”

    Disagree, the first thought that crossed my mind when I read the story was “New DC United assistant coach, incoming in 5,4,3…”

  67. CS Roesler says:

    My feeling is that they did violate club rules. What that entails…wait for the official statement. Both have been great coaches for the organization and I can only wish them the best for the future. From a personal sucks. But I hold complete judgement until we have all the facts.

  68. chupacabra says:

    The problem is that there actually are some serious idiots over at RBNY . . .

  69. casar barrientos says:

    to be honest i will miss Richie but Mc f…. no,any real GK coach would know what i mean when they see him training,there is no real training just by looking at mistakes that our keepers make you can tell that working on fundamentals does not exist.Is a joke am glad he is gone,they should have keept Andrew Sparks as a GK coach.

  70. Michael F. SBI Mafia Original says:

    Backe wants his own assistants. Nothing more, nothing less. But we will never get the whole truth…they can’t say that. It will be interesting to see where they land. Ives, any idea if RB is on the hook to pay them their salaries for the season?

  71. Dennis says:

    It is absolutely clear that nothing is clear.

  72. Berry says:

    I heard the they’v been having exploratory conversation to the NY Cosmos. Look for announcement soon.

  73. DC Josh prioritizes his life says:

    Very shady. Can’t wait to hear the details about why they were fired. In the meantime…

    Coach Olsen should be on the phone right now.

  74. JoeW says:

    Especially given the club’s “official” statement (“we have decided to go in a different direction), this sounds to me like Backe had an opportunity to hire one or two of his own guys, they weren’t available earlier, they are available now and so that’s what’s happening. Completely understandable. Not very classy b/c it does screw these two assistants–highly unlikely either would get a gig with an MLS club at this point and college soccer is out of season so no rush to hire.

    Whether it’s a “smart” decision…time will tell.

  75. dan says:

    The most dreaded words any employee wants to hear his employer say “We want to thank you for your contributions to our franchise and wish you good luck in your future endeavors.”

  76. Dainja says:

    In college football, “repeated rules violations” usually means folks were caught smokin weed. Seriously. LSU Chris Tiger knows what I mean. I went to Auburn, and whenever we kick someone off the team for gettin high…that is the term we use. LET – THEM – BLAZE!! haha.

  77. ga-gone says:

    No job this season? I assure you DC United will be looking for a new coach before the year is out.

    BTW, enjoy the move to Baltimore.

  78. ga-gone says:

    Point of information: If you watch the inside the draft video from last year, it seems pretty clear that Ream was Soler’s pick, not Richie’s.

  79. Ronny says:

    Agree that this smells– Scandanavian cartel closing ranks? Do we really want to become a purely Norway system (how have they done in club and world cup comp?!) Odd that NYRB mgmt including Backe have praised Richie regularly (check NYTImes blog today). Richie is known for good chemistry with players and strong views on the game – maybe these became a threat to Backe if his own player rapport is weak? (rumors from last year). Why not bring in his own boys from norway or wherever…problem is they, like Backe, have minimal experience in this league and with such a diverse group of players. NYRB fans deserve an explanation. We need more info, but this looks B-league from here…not good sign for program.

  80. Inca says:

    This is good…Shows Backe is the man. I like his style. There isn’t going to be too many cooks in the kitchen with this club.

  81. sholata says:

    Days later and still not a word as to why these moves were taken, and why now? Explanations are owed. In half a century of watching sports, I’ve never heard of anything remotely close to this. The Knicks wouldn’t do this. Wellington Mara would not dream of doing this. Even crazy George Steinbrenner wouldn’t attempt a crack head move like firing assistants on the eve of a season. No business would even consider a comparable change like this. Explanations are owed.

  82. Becks says:

    Ives, what’s the latest on this one? What’s with the radio silence?

  83. I love Soccer.I love David backham