By IVES GALARCEP
In what is becoming a recurring theme with the New York Red Bulls, just when they look like they have their guy, something goes wrong and the team is left scrambling.
Just a week after sources told SBI that the Red Bulls and Paulo Sousa had reached an agreement to make Sousa the team’s new head coach, a fresh report out of Portugal states that Sousa has decided to pass on the job after initially leaving his head coaching job with Hungarian side Videoton expressly to take the New York job.
One source with knowledge of the coaching search said that Sousa’s hiring will not happen know, though it remains unclear just what went wrong in the days since Sousa initially agreed to take the position.
It remains unclear just what has happened with the process to hire a head coach, but this latest development comes on the heals of Claudio Reyna turning down the Red Bulls’ offer of being the team’s lead assistant coach. It is believed the team wanted to have both head coach and assistant coach in place before making an announcement, but Reyna’s delay in making a decision, coupled with his ultimate decision to pass on the assistant coaching role, appears to have soured Sousa on joining the Red Bulls as well.
Now the Red Bulls are in training camp without a head coach or lead assistant, with Mike Petke serving as the interim coach while New York sorts out the situation (marking the first time in MLS history a team has gone into training camp without a head coach hired). Sources tell SBI that the team has been interviewing candidates for the assistant coaching opening, but now the team is once again on the search for a head coach.
The Red Bulls had appeared to be leaning toward hiring a foreign head coach, with an American assistant coach, but after passing on Gary McAllister and now having seemingly been snubbed by Sousa, the Red Bulls may have no choice but to dip into a deep pool of experienced former MLS coaches currently available. A pool that includes Jesse Marsch, Robin Fraser, Preki and Denis Hamlett to name a few.
The Red Bulls could now be forced to consider making Petke the team’s permanent head coach. Though he has no previous head coaching experience, Petke has the standing within the organization, and the respect of the fan base, to be well received as a coaching hire. If Sousa has, in fact, walked away from the Red Bulls, the team may have no choice but to hand the team over to Petke.
The drawn-out coaching search has soured what has actually been a good off-season for the Red Bulls in terms of rebuilding the squad. The departure of Rafa Marquez and acquisitions of Juninho Pernambucano, Jamison Olave and Fabian Espindola to name a few has the Red Bulls looking poised to be a stronger team in 2013. The only problem is they do not have a coach yet and the season is due to kick off in less than six week with the Red Bulls traveling to Portland on March 3rd.
What do you think of this situation? Who do you think the Red Bulls should hire? Have you ever heard of a team heading into pre-season camp without a coach in place? Think Petke could be a good head coach?
Share your thoughts below.