This week, the Red Bulls made two important moves. They signed a new assistant coach and locked down Bradley Wright-Phillips to a new multi-year deal.
On Tuesday, the organization announced that Bradley Carnell had been named assistant coach, filling the vacancy left by Denis Hamlett’s promotion to sporting director. This came as a surprise to many, who expected goalkeeping coach Preston Burpo or assistant Chris Armas to get the nod. Both have been on Marsch’s staff for years and played with Marsch on MLS clubs.
Instead, the organization hired Bradley Carnell, who played mostly in Germany and has only coached in South Africa. At first glance, it seems like an odd appointment. It doesn’t fit with the history of previous hires. But speaking to reporters after practice, head coach Jesse Marsch explained the hire.
He said, “I met him through some of our friends in Germany. He played for Ralf Rangnick at Stuttgart and knows a little bit about how we do things here. So we had an initial discussion…a while back. And then we evaluated potential internal [candidates] in terms of the league versus someone like that – and we felt like we have a good grasp on a lot of things that go on in the league, and so integrating someone into the league that knows our style of play was kind of the direction we wanted to go. Bradley is a good guy, he’s got big experiences and I think that he’ll be able to add a lot to the staff.”
Simply, this move does two things. First, it brings in a coach who has experience in the Ralfball system, as Carnell played for Ralf Rangnick at VfB Stuttgart. This makes perfect sense. The Red Bulls have plenty of coaches who know the MLS system. They don’t need another one of those. But someone with a different perspective, who could help Jesse Marsch implement improved tactics, is always a welcome addition.
Second, this strengthens Marsch’s ties to the RB Global Soccer system. It is obvious that Marsch wants to develop his relationship with Ralf Rangnick, sporting director for all of Red Bull global football. He has been to Europe several times in the past year, including a recent jaunt to take UEFA coaching classes. This hiring may be another step in Marsch’s eventual move to RB Salzburg that has been rumored since the beginning of the year.
Bradley Wright-Phillips Signs New Contract
On Wednesday, the Red Bulls announced that they signed striker Bradley Wright-Phillips to a new multi-year deal. Since joining the Red Bulls in 2014, Wright-Phillips has scored 70 goals, winning the golden boot in 2014 and 2016. He is also the first player in MLS to record multiple seasons of 20 goals or more.
This contract once again makes Wright-Phillips a Designated Player, meaning all three of the Red Bulls DP slots are now full. However, it may be possible for them to buy down Gonzalo Veron’s contract to make space for a new DP in the summer.