In 16 seasons, the New York Red Bulls/MetroStars have had 12 different head coaches and seven different general managers or sporting directors. Close to 300 players have suited up for the team since its inception.
Year after year, there is constant turnover—coaching changes, management changes, roster overhauls. Yet the team has never found the right mix and, therefore, have never won a trophy of any kind, be it the MLS Cup, Supporter’s Shield or U.S. Open Cup.
After the 2011 season, which can only be described as a failure due to high expectations coming into the year, the housecleaning begins again.
We know that sporting director Erik Soler will return in 2012, along with head coach Hans Backe. The team has decimated its roster, however. Alex Horwath, Mike Jones, Tyler Lassiter, Marcos Paullo, John Rooney and Teddy Schneider were all waived. Carlos Mendes (the longest-tenured player on the roster and lone MetroStar remaining), Bouna Coundoul and Chris Albright did not have their options picked up, and Stephane Auvray was released. Greg Sutton, in a complicated loan move with expansion squad Montreal Impact, will also not be back this year.
None of those players were starters. A number of them hardly ever even made the bench. And that's with the situations of Frank Rost and Brian Nielsen still up in the air.
Some may say there’s nothing wrong with getting rid of dead weight, especially when the team failed to meet expectations. But there is a bigger issue at hand with the roster.
If you look at the list of the players who were let go, five of them were rookies last season and another two players were in their first year with the team. Auvray didn’t even have a full season under his belt; he was acquired in a trade in August.
The organization is not developing young players or team chemistry.
In professional sports, unless you are the New York Yankees or Manchester United, you can’t just pay for new players every year. You need to develop young talent. It’s a cost-effective way to becoming successful.
In team sports, chemistry is important. Guys need time to gel and learn each other’s tendencies. You also have to want to play and sacrifice not only for yourself but for the guy next to you as well. The more you’re willing to do and sacrifice, the better the outcome can be. And many times it takes some sort of relationship to develop over time for players to put that kind of trust into each other.
Also, players need to feel confident and think they have some sort of security on the team. It’s difficult to play your best when you’re constantly looking over your shoulder after every play wondering if you’re going to get yanked. It’s tough to feel settled and at ease when game-by-game you don’t know if you’ll be returning to the team the next day (Remember how Dwayne De Rosario was acquired and sent packing in a matter of months during the season?)
Alas, the New York Red Bulls management ignores all these things. Players are pieces of Monopoly property that get traded and sold at will.
It’s one thing if a team clears its roster to put forth a new foundation that will build the team for the next few years. But that becomes a moot point when the team is brand-new year in and year out. If you don’t bring in quality players to replace the released ones, then what was the point of the roster overhaul to begin with? And if guys can’t last a year with the same team (not counting for loans), why did you go out and get them in the first place?
Maybe the team should do something new. Instead of having a quick trigger finger and getting rid of players after a few months on the roster management should re-evaluate its scouts. Somebody is not doing their job in the ranks. The team is obviously collecting sub-par talent that is not good enough to meet the expectations set. Who is advising ownership to get these players?
Why is it that for every Joel Lindpere unearthered there’s a list of at least 10 guys like Juan Pietravallo, Jorge Rojas, Leo Krupnick, Walter Garcia, Matthew Mbuta, Ryan Suarez, Markus Schopp, Gilmar, Daniel Garipe and Gabriel Cichero?
There is a saying muttered by the New York Red Bulls supporters after most games or seasons or transactions and it’s, “Same old Metro.”
No matter how much the team changes, at its core, nothing really changes at all.