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'Goose' moves into the 'crosshairs'
by Ridge Mahoney, January 9th, 2008 6:45AM

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TAGS:  mls


[MLS WATCH] Coaches and players came and went, one DP dazzled while the other dallied, AEG pulled out of the Red Bulls' operation once and for all, and at some point actual dirt was actually moved at the site of what is to be Red Bull Park. All that occurred during the first year of former U.S. international Jeff Agoos' tenure. His second year began this week with a new title, Sporting Director, and a much heavier workload following one season as Technical Director.

"I'm in the crosshairs, now," he said, somewhat in jest. "Well, not really, but what I am responsible for is making sure the ideas and values this organization stands for are in place from our academy all the way up to the first team. That means everything to do with player development and selection, from working with [Director of Youth Development] Bob Montgomery, with our youth teams, to working with the coaching staff about getting what we need to win in MLS."

Cynical fans might wonder if success and stability are among those tenets. Another tumultuous season, punctuated by the dismissal of former head coach Bruce Arena, a tepid season for Claudio Reyna, and a rather abrupt departure by goalkeeper Ronald Wattereus, took some of the shine off a 19-goal contribution from Juan Pablo Angel and a promising rookie campaign by midfielder Dane Richards.

If nothing else, Red Bull successfully wrested head coach Juan Carlos Osorio out of Chicago once he'd made known his desire to change clubs.

"I haven't spent a lot of time with him yet, although I knew him a little bit from when I was playing in the league," said Agoos, who played for San Jose when Osorio was an assistant coach with the MetroStars.

"He's a very meticulous, very driven, very hard-working individual," says Agoos, who will accompany Osorio to the MLS Combine and MLS SuperDraft. "He pays a great deal of attention to detail and takes a lot of pride in the teams that he coaches. His enthusiasm and energy is contagious, and he brings that part of his personality to the team."

In addition to the academy program, Agoos will oversee the Red Bulls' youth teams, which include five full squads - totaling 90 to 100 players -- in the critical 16- and 17-year old age group. Because it started its youth teams well before the official implementation by MLS last year, it already has players eligible to be signed rather than be exposed in the MLS SuperDraft. Once a player has been registered on an MLS youth team for two years, he can sign with the club, although he's free to sign with any other club.

"I don't see us signing any of those players in the near future, although you never know," he says. "Those kids are pretty young to bring into a first-team situation, except for Jozy [Altidore] of course, but he's a special case. It's more important to get those teams and all of our programs on the same page.

"Red Bull is an ambitious organization, with obviously a lot of resources, and wants to move in the right direction. That's something this team really hasn't had in 13 years. We're getting a training center and a stadium. [Red Bull owner] Dieter Mateschitz is personally committed to this team and you couldn't ask for more from an ownership group."

Case in point is a training center in Hanover Park, and Red Bull Park in Harrison. The final vestiges of AEG involvement vanished in November when Red Bull bought out AEG's half-interest in the 25,000-seat stadium, which is scheduled for completion in 2009.

Last week, heavy construction machines gouging deep ravines in the ground and piling huge mountains of dirt brought nearly a decade of prospecting, planning, postponing, posturing, and politicking to fruition.

"If it comes out looking like the pictures and designs I've seen, it will be phenomenal, the finest stadium in North America," says Agoos. "The training center is something you obviously need to truly be a professional team, but it will be a beautiful stadium and a beautiful experience for our fans."

Agoos won four championships with D.C. and San Jose as a player and admits to some frustration striving for success in a suit and tie. He ended his career in 2005 after one season with the MetroStars. He turns 40 in May.

"It's relatively easy to be successful as a player, because really you only have to worry about yourself," he says. "Attaining success as a coach or a general manager or what-have-you is a lot harder, but if we do manage to win a championship, I'll be just as proud as I was in D.C. and San Jose."

 



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