Soler to pick up slack in NY after Heck's abrupt departure

Erik Soler

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UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J. – If New York Red Bulls general manager and sporting director Erik Solér wasn't already busy enough this season, he surely is now.

In addition to his day-to-day work in trying to help improve the Red Bulls on the field, Soler will now be in charge of some of the off-the-field duties left behind by Chris Heck, the president of business operations who abruptly left the club last week after just one year at his post.

Solér said the search for Heck’s permanent replacement has already begun. But until the successor is found, Solér will have added responsibilities at the club he has been with since late 2009.

“I’ll be a little bit more involved, but the operational side of acting upon what we agree is not going to be an option for me to dig too deep into,” Solér told reporters earlier this week. ”Because, first of all, I’m not an expert on business in New York and MLS. Secondary, I think it’s so important to keep full focus with [head coach Hans Backe] on the sporting side.

“But I’ll be a bit more involved and I’ll work with this group of business managers very closely. We’re going to sit down once or twice every week and run through all angles and see how we can progress.”

Solér would not go into detail as to why Heck is no longer with the club, nor would he specify if the Red Bulls let him go or if Heck left on his own accord. But Solér did say that a replacement could come before 2013 rolls around.

“We’ll run it with the people we have; we have a bunch of good people on the business side,” Solér said. “We run it with those people for the next months, maybe for the rest of this year and then we’ll evaluate and see and make some choices at the right time.”

Solér was also asked about Heck’s disconnect with the Red Bulls fanbase and whether he would like the next president of business operations to have a better relationship with them. Choosing his words carefully about a matter he and Heck said they would not discuss in public too much, Solér was as diplomatic as can be.

“In the game of soccer, there will always be something that you want to do better and something that the guy before did do well and not that well,” Solér said. “It’s a natural thing. We’ll try to work with the group of people that we have, see how well we can do in the various areas and make decisions in the next few months. I don’t have this total idea worked out, it’s not that easy, but I’m confident that we’ll be able to run it well.”

Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at Franco8813@gmail.com.