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Red Bulls Facing Crucial OffSeason
The Jersey Record, October 28th, 2009 4PM

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Erik Stover, who took over as the managing director of the Red Bulls in 2008, has some big decisions to make in the club's offseason, possibly the most crucial winter in franchise history. This winter, as the league unveils a new collective bargaining agreement in January, and as the league revamps roster rules, the Red Bulls will move into a new stadium. "We do need to have a more unified vision of who we are, what our character is, what our culture is and where we're going to be next year and five years from now," Stover said.

First on his list of priorities is the position of sporting director, or general manager, a position currently held by former Red Bulls player Jeff Agoos. While Agoos could retain a position with the club, Stover and the club's overseers in Austria are searching far and wide for a powerful director who would receive autonomy regarding personnel decisions. The Red Bull group in Austria, including the newly hired sporting director of the entire Red Bull organization, Dietmar Beiersdorfer, is considering European options. "We've talked to a lot of people, literally dozens," Stover said. "Some aren't really qualified. Some are superbly qualified. We're just going through that vetting process now."

The new sporting director will ultimately decide if the Red Bulls will hold onto current coach Richie Williams. Williams took over a team that was 2-16-4 and had it play .500 in the final eight games. But that may not be enough to get the full-time job, despite widespread support from players. Stover, however, has shown Williams full support. "I think he's done an outstanding job," Stover said. "It's a pretty tough position to take over, obviously. Morale was very low. A lot of injuries. He showed his mettle. For my money, he should be a finalist. We're going to work through that. We've got to get the sporting director decision done first. Then we will start analyzing coaching options after that."

Lastly, the Red Bulls have the intriguing option of signing another designated player, in addition to Juan Pablo Angel, as the club acquired an extra slot for a DP in a 2006 trade. While former coach Juan Pablo Osorio argued against signing another big-money player for fear of sabotaging the club's salary cap, new league rules could ensure that none of a designated players' salary counts against the salary cap. One big name that repeatedly crops up is French striker Thierry Henry. But Stover isn't calling any attention to that possibility. "We can't comment on any players under contract," Stover said.

 

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